POSTSCRIPT / November 18, 2008 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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NPC rallies working press vs harassment

DOOMED: A month ago, on Oct. 21, Postscript said that the move to recall Pampanga Gov. Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio was DOOMED. We listed several reasons, including lack of funds.

Last Thursday, an action of the Commission on Elections confirmed what we said. Passing en banc Resolution No. 8547 “suspending all actions on all recall petitions,” the poll body drove the last nail in the coffin of the recall move.

The Comelec cited lack of funds. It has only P5 million for some 19 recall petitions/elections all over the country. In Pampanga alone, P25 million is needed.

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REASONS: Postscript cited these reasons why Panlilio’s recall was doomed:

• Time is running out. The tedious process must be completed by May 2009, just six months from now, or one year before the next local election in 2010.

• Panlilio’s lawyers are poised to question each of the 200,000 signatures on the petition. Verification of the signatories could take forever. (They also discovered a fatal flaw: The reason for recall — loss of confidence — was not on the same sheet as the signatures.)

• Every decision of the Comelec could elicit a motion for reconsideration, the usual TRO (temporary restraining order), and a likely appeal to a higher court, all the way to the Supreme Court, with all the attendant motions and petitions.

• The protest against Panlilio filed by Lilia Pineda, who lost to him by only 1,147 votes, has not been resolved. Imagine the confusion if Pineda won her protest and Panlilio lost to somebody else in the recall elections!

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TELEBABAD: Unlimited texting and calling for a fixed daily or monthly amount is tantalizing to prepaid celfon users on the lookout for bargains.

For telebabad types whose phone is almost like an appendage and those who have to keep in constant touch with large groups and networks, unlimited calls for a fixed amount appear like a dream come true. Suddenly the problem of running out of credits for calls and texting is gone.

But a closer look at the scheme shows it may not be that advantageous or economical to the user. Anyone texting and calling with abandon based on a fixed daily amount (load) will end up spending much more.

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350% MORE: The average celfon caller uses only a maximum of 214 minutes per month. At standard peso-per-minute calling rates, this would cost P214. Computed daily, that usage means the user would normally spend an average of just P7.14 of load daily.

So if the user shifts to the plan promising unlimited calls/text for P25 per day, he would be spending 350 percent over what he actually needs. On a monthly (30 days) basis, the average user would pay P750 (P25 x 30) for P214 worth of usage.

No wonder, many users who had rushed to adopt the plan gave it up after the excitement wore off and hard peso-reality hit them.

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700-M TEXTS DAILY: In this texting capital of the world, 600 to 800 million text messages are sent each day, according to available data.

At P1 per short text, that means at least P600 million pouring into the coffers of celfon firms every day. But since the bulk of these messages are sent using unlimited-use packages or bucket-pricing schemes, the telcos’ revenue per message can be as low as 10 centavos.

As of the first quarter of this year, the ranking of the telcos is: Smart (including Piltel Talk ‘N Text) – 34.2 million; Globe — 23.7 million; and Sun — 5.4 million.

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REVENUE SHARE: But it is not a straight one peso-per text situation. In the case of Smart, bucket-priced SMS (text) packages comprise 58 percent of total cellular data revenues.

Cellular data revenues would include not only that from texting but also from downloading of mobile content and Internet browsing. An educated guess is that text messaging accounts for about 90 percent of cellular data revenue.

For Smart also, cellular data revenues (including text messaging) accounts for around 55 percent of cellular service revenues and the balance from mobile voice calls.

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NPC STAND: More groups are rallying around four columnists (so far) and three editors being harassed by GSIS president and general manager Winston Garcia with libel suits. The National Press Club, umbrella organization of the working press, is one of them.

NPC President Benny Antiporda said: “The National Press Club is firmly standing behind our colleagues who have been the subject of the latest efforts by GSIS president Winston Garcia to cow the working media by filing separate libel cases against them.

“Inasmuch as there is a pending court case between the NPC and Mr. Garcia, the NPC initially tried to stay neutral and refrain from issuing any statement relative to the issue.

“But after careful deliberations, we at the NPC have decided that we could not take this matter sitting down.

“The NPC strongly condemns this action of Mr. Garcia who has consistently refused to face and answer the allegations against him squarely. Instead, he has developed the habit of hauling his critics before the court.

“Unfortunately for him, we will continue to be vigilant and do our duty as responsible members of the media.

“As such, we are calling on all our colleagues to keep the flames of our fight for press freedom burning. Let no one, not even Mr. Garcia, stop us from doing what we believe is right and most especially if the interest of the people is at stake.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 18, 2008)

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