POSTSCRIPT / August 9, 2007 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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The Big Lie that was & is the Marcos wealth

BIG LIE: For two decades, the Marcoses did their darned best to conceal their vast wealth worldwide, peddling the lie that they had no valuable property hidden in violation of law and decency.

They had to hide their dirty pile because, by normal reckoning, it was scandalously far beyond what the dictator, his wife and their children combined could have earned legitimately in their productive years.

The hoard had to stay hidden because it is presumed, by law, to have been illegally acquired. As such, the hot property is subject to confiscation and its principal owners, being public officials, to severe punishment.

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MASKS OFF: In short, the Marcoses have been saying under oath for almost one generation that what they truly owned was only what they had declared in official statements required by law, no more no less.

But now, taking off their masks as they cavort on center stage, the Marcoses are claiming that they actually own this and that property or those shares of stock, or whatever has been entrusted kuno by the dictator to his cronies, runners or hostages.

At this point it may be difficult to tell which is the bigger lie — the defensive lie then or the offensive lie now.

But, whether then or now, would you believe them?

And would you believe that President Gloria Arroyo, making peace all around for a graceful exit in 2010, is unaware of what the Marcoses are up to?

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EXCUSES: Readers who, like me, had been inconvenienced by Northwest Airlines’ arbitrary flight cancellations may be interested to know that NWA chief executive Doug Steenland apologized last week for their bad service.

Steenland blamed the problem mostly on increased pilot absenteeism, which was earlier mentioned in Postscript as triggered by flight personnel’s disenchantment with management.

Talking with the media and analysts in Minnesota last Tuesday, he and other Northwest officials promised to reduce cancellations by hiring more pilots and paring down flight schedules to more manageable levels.

Even with that, I would not be surprised if some stranded or badly inconvenienced Filipino passengers sue the airline in the Philippines, where it has business operations.

Paying passengers with confirmed flights expect the airline to make good its contracted commitments instead of offering excuses or apologies.

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ARROGANCE: Complaints from readers who had experienced the arbitrary flight cancellations and sloppy service of Northwest continue to pop up in our email inbox.

Dr. Emmanuel Noli Santos, chairman-CEO of the International Academy of Management and Economics, said in an email:

“I’ve been telling a retired stewardess who took up PhD in Management at my school that perhaps all the dissatisfied customers should start a global movement through the blogs to express their feelings against NWA.

“If they (NWA) get more vacant seats, perhaps their bubble of arrogance will burst to their faces.

“I won an NWA business class round-trip ticket during the annual George Washington Ball at the US embassy last February 2007. Since I have to attend a post-doctoral course in Harvard University in December 2007, I decided to get a booking for me and my wife as early as April 2007.

“Because the ticket is free and my wife has high NWA world perks points exclusive of my own points, the standard reply over the last four months is: ‘Sorry, we are fully booked.’

“My wife and I may finally end up buying our airline tickets from another airline. The way NWA treats its customers goes against all the best corporate practices in marketing.”

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NO MILEAGE: Reader Jeff Tan of San Juan said: “It is not the terrible experience you suffer, but even your mileage accrual with Northwest would be affected.

“You take another carrier, but the original NWA miles would not be credited to your account. It’s because if you want to credit your miles you will need your ticket and boarding pass. Since you don’t have a NWA boarding pass, how can you credit it?

“You need to submit documentation, and your mileage will not be credited before six months.

“But I don’t have terrible flying experience with Northwest because I don’t use them. I am Asian, so I fly on Asian carriers like CX, PR, SQ, BR, CI, not US carriers.”

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FEWER PILOTS: In the last weeks of June and July, the Minnesota-based airline was forced to cancel hundreds of flights because there were not enough pilots on duty. Many of them were calling in sick.

In June, Northwest blamed the cancellations in the East on bad weather. It said the foul-up exhausted many pilots’ flight hour limits for the month.

But pilots’ union leaders hit management for failing to heed their warnings that it was cutting pilot staffing too thin during bankruptcy and pushing flight schedules too aggressively.

The No. 6 airline in the US, Northwest reported a $2.15 billion second-quarter profit, attributed mostly to accounting adjustments related to its coming out from bankruptcy last May.

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UNACCEPTABLE: While talking of gains, Steenland said the airline’s “operational performance in June and July has been unacceptable.”

In the second half of July, pilot absenteeism soared. Northwest canceled 12.1 percent of its flights in the last week of that month, way above the 2.9 percent of other major US airlines.

Data from FlightStats.com, an Oregon firm analyzing airline operations, show that in the first 26 days of July, Northwest’s cancellation rate was 3.5 percent, more than double the 1.4 percent for the other major carriers combined.

Above information about Steenland and Northwest was sent by reader Hermes Adriano quoting USA Today.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 9, 2007)

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