POSTSCRIPT / August 28, 2001 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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GMA must not let Lacson distract her

STEALTH & SILENCE: It was providential that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was away on a neighborly visit to Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore when AFP intelligence chief Col. Victor Corpus ignited a brushfire that scorched the underpants of Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

Although there was no need for an alibi, her being away for days fitted with her assertion that Malacañang was not directing Corpus as he dragged down the senator on charges of kidnapping, robbery, murder, drug-trafficking and money-laundering.

Intelligence operations require stealth and silence. With his strategic mission clear in his head, Corpus has been operating with tactical discretion — meaning he does not have to clear his every move with higher authority.

Some senators demand that Corpus explain why he did not tell his bosses up the chain of command. The answer is simple: Kasi ganoon. (Because that’s it.)

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SECURITY RISKS: That’s the only way we can get results in this country. The surest way to fail in a police-type operation, or for that matter almost any important endeavor, is to involve more people than you can trust with your life.

Many police raids on criminal lairs, for instance, have failed even before the raiding team could start rolling out, because some scab in the group had tipped off the targets.

Even the application for a search/arrest warrant could wipe out the painstaking sleuthing done before the application, because — pardon our saying it — the judge could just be on the payroll or is at least a kumpadre of the person named in the warrant.

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DOG EAT DOG: On the road, haven’t you noticed that it often does not pay to signal your intentions? You signal to pass and the driver in front of you quickly moves to block your passage. You don’t get anywhere by following the rules.

At the patent office, many inventors make the mistake of showing their wares and leaving their papers. They discover later to their horror that a virtual unknown had mysteriously submitted a similar invention several days earlier.

A government employee submits to the processing agency an application for a fellowship abroad. He pinpoints the school program he has researched on. His application is later disapproved, because a relative of somebody in the agency had grabbed it.

A family quietly farming a secluded piece of hilly public land for generations decides to formalize their hold on the property. They apply for it. Not long after, a big shot appears with armed thugs, shows a brand-new title to the land, drives out the family, and burns their hut and crops.

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CAMACHO OPTIMISTIC: Despite continuing destabilization, by and large President Arroyo has been able to fend off the brickbats and focus on her economic targets. Returning from her recent trip, she is buoyed with more confidence in the country’s being able to bounce back.

Such optimism is contagious. Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho has been saying lately that he sees a 4.3 to 4.6-percent growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) next year. He traces this to an improved investment climate and business confidence.

While 4.6 percent is slower than the 7 percent growth rate predicted by the eternal optimist Speaker Jose de Venecia — provided, he adds, the parameters he has been advocating are set in place — Camacho’s updated figure is higher than the government’s previous 3.3-percent forecast.

In Thailand, Prime Minister Tahksim Shiniwatra says that even in a worst-case scenario, their economy will grow by 2-3 percent. He thinks this is good enough compared to that of neighboring countries like Singapore, which is in recession, and Malaysia, which is expected to go negative also.

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U.S., JAPAN DOWN: Most people we’ve talked with say a 3-percent growth for the Philippines would be more likely. Recovery is slowed down partly by the economic downtrend in the United States and Japan, the country’s main trading partners.

The US economy is still on the brink of a recession. Manufacturing has contracted for the last 12 months in a row, while the high-tech sector has crashed. Only consumer spending is keeping the US economy afloat.

Some economists predict that the US will hit a recession later this year, and that it will be a long one.

Days ago, Fed chief Allan Greenspan cut US interest rates anew by another quarter-percentage point. It was the seventh cut for the year, bringing down interest rates from a high of 7.5 to 3.5 percent. Still, recession lurks on the horizon.

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SKYWAY TO AIRPORT: At the tourism department, Secretary Dick Gordon is excited over the P10-billion skyway being built to connect the Makati-Bonifacio business area to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport complex in Pasay and Parañaque.

The 6.2-kilometer elevated highway will begin from Fort Bonifacio, connect to NAIA 3, move on to NAIA 2, then to NAIA 1, before ending at Roxas Blvd.

The route dedicated to international flight passengers will significantly improve traffic to and from the airports after its opening in December next year. The entire project will be operational by 2004.

At present, tourists and other airport commuters have to pass an unsightly backyard of Pasay City that former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos used to cover with tall whitewashed walls in shame.

While waiting for the skyway to open, Gordon has crossed agency lines to have the stinking NAIA-Tramo route widened, cleaned and made to look better.

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INTEL IN CAVITE: Intel, the world’s No.1 chipmaker and source of the omnipresent Pentiums, will pump in an additional P1.4 billion into its Philippine operations. The manufacturing capability of the Intel plant in Cavite will be upgraded, becoming the first Intel plant outside the US to use its latest manufacturing technology.

Intel USA has announced that they will shift much of their Pentium 4 manufacturing from Costa Rica to Cavite, because the latter site is the most cost-efficient among their plants.

Some $7.5 billion has been earmarked by Intel to cope with anticipated worldwide demand for their chips. About $1 billion of that will be allocated for Philippine operations.

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LOW PC/HD DEMAND: Tokyo-based Fujitsu is poised to lay off soon 16,400 employees in several stages to cope with the economic slump. Fujitsu indicated that much of the layoff would be from plants outside Japan, including those in Thailand and the Philippines.

Their plant in Laguna employs about 8,500 workers, most of whom (around 5,000) are in the manufacture of hard disks for computers. The HD department could be the worst hit by the layoff.

There is a worldwide slump in the demand for personal computers. Since PCs must have at least one harddisk drive, a drop in PC sales will mean a drop in HD use.

If it’s any consolation, industry analysts see a resurgence of PC sales late this year, around Christmas time.

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FATAL DRUG?: Bad news to Bayer, one of Germany’s biggest chemical and pharmaceutical companies, and to users of one of its products. At least 52 deaths have been linked to their drug called Baycol, a cholesterol-lowering drug.

Lawyers all over Europe have filed class action suits demanding billions of euros in compensation for the Baycol-linked fatalities.

As a result, Bayer is reportedly considering getting out of the pharma business for good.

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ALTERNATIVE TO LAYOFF: Consulting giant Accenture, formerly with the sprawling Arthur Andersen Group, is reportedly set to cut 1,200 jobs worldwide.

To lessen the number of consultants to be laid off, Accenture is encouraging them to go on sabbatical leave of up to 12 months at 20-percent of their pay while enjoying their medical and other benefits.

Accenture assures them that they will have jobs to come back to at the end of their sabbaticals.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 28, 2001)

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