POSTSCRIPT / November 18, 2003 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Pacquiao used FPJ’s machine-gun punches

FPJ TRADEMARK: Action star Fernando Poe Jr., alas, must be getting old.

Right after our own Manny Pacquiao mauled IBF featherweight king Marco Antonio Barrera of Mexico to bloody submission in 11 rounds Sunday in San Antonio, Texas, President Arroyo butted in with a congratulatory message.

Displaying faster political reflexes, Ms. Arroyo beat FPJ to the draw with her exuberant remarks, obviously aimed in part at voters watching the non-title bout on television.

Sayang. We think Da King should have been the logical congratulator. As millions had witnessed, Pacquiao’s deadly arsenal included FPJ-style machine-gun staccato punches that made mincemeat of Barrera’s midsection.

We were waiting for GMA to slip in a line about the Strong Republic, the return of foreign investments and her tormentors in the opposition, but she was able to hold herself back.

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PAYUMO SIDE: Comes now chairman Felicito C. Payumo of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority answering his predecessor’s criticism against his plan to borrow $185 million to build a new container port in Cubi Point in Subic and contract out its operations.

Responding to Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon’s charge that such a plan is “disadvantageous to the government,” Payumo said that privatizing operations is the best way to get qualified private sector operators to participate.

“Not only will they contribute capital for the equipment but also expertise to run it professionally,” he said. “We just privatized our power distribution, and by doing so our distribution cost was reduced by 40.5 centavos/kwh. That’s because we recognized that Aboitiz is more efficient than we will ever be.”

He said a loan is needed because “no private company could afford to invest that amount using high-cost money and hope to get satisfactory return for his investment under present economic conditions.”

According to Payumo, the amount to be funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation is $157 million, not $185 million as earlier reported, with $30 million coming from the private operator.

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SUBIC MISSING OUT: Payumo said that the Naval Supply Depot (NSD) that Gordon cited as the better site was also considered along with two other places but “was rejected for being too shallow and lacking for safe maneuverability of big ships which is now the trend.”

He explained that container ships that unload at NSD carry only 300 TEUs (20-footer containers) but that 70 percent of new container ship buildings will carry 3000 containers or 10 times the size, and some up to 7000-8000 TEUs.

Site study being a technical subject, Payumo said he would rather listen to the experts, “and so would the JBIC which would fund the project and is therefore concerned of its viability.” He added that the NSD would still be used as a port for non-containerized cargo.

Citing a shortage of 14 million TEUs capacity in Asia Pacific, Payumo said: “If we don’t build now, we will not be able to share in the growing commerce. Half of the world’s merchant fleet passes through the front door of Subic but only the other ports in the region benefit. Vietnam is building under JBIC financing. That’s the reason why Batangas and Cagayan de Oro also obtained JBIC funding.”

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RISK-FREE PLACEMENT: The Standard Chartered Bank has been in the country for more than 130 years. All these years, it never had a legal problem until somebody came along to charge the bank and its officers with selling unregistered investment instruments.

Former bank executive Manuel Baviera, 54, apparently lost $3,500 on an $8,000 placement in the Global Third Party Fund he made in 2000. Placing the money with a lady officer (who is no longer with the bank), he claimed having been assured 40-percent risk-free earnings per year.

Baviera filed cases before the Bangko Sentral, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Anti-Money Laundering Council to force the bank to pay him back his losses and $2 million in separation benefits.

The bank said Baviera was wrong in claiming that his investment was risk-free. There is no such investment, the bank argued, and the terms of the investment clearly state that it is possible for an investor to lose the principal, depending on the market situation.

The bank said the cases filed by Baviera amounted to blackmail. Fighting back, it is charging him with perjury.

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PAGING BAYANI: If he is not too busy putting up roadside urinals, replacing left-turns with U-turns and preparing to become Vice President, MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando may want to go back home to face some 700 poor families asking to buy the lots where their houses stand.

The families occupying a private tract in Concepcion, Marikina, are urging Fernando’s wife Marides, who is now mayor, to immediately enforce an eight-year-old agreement to subdivide the land and issue titles to the residents.

The families have lived for decades in the Balubad resettlement area without being bothered by the landowners who sealed a deal in 1995 with Bayani (then the mayor) to place the area under a Community Mortgage Program so they could buy their lots on installment.

The families have organized into 13 associations to expedite their purchase of the land at P1,000 per sqm.

Some of them have expressed suspicion that a city official was delaying the transfer to enable a favored operator to work out another deal to grab the land for commercial purposes.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 18, 2003)

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