POSTSCRIPT / September 21, 2008 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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To save her boss, Dabu can consider resigning

ERRATUM: In our last Postscript, the corporate name of the publicly-listed Philcomsat Holdings Corp. came out Philippine Holdings Corp. My mistake.

As a PHC stockholder, I resent that some characters — Locsin, Andal, Jalandoni, Brodett, Lokin, Poblador, De Leon, Abad and Araneta — parading themselves as PHC directors were just equipped with qualifying shares that they did not have to pay for.

At 100 shares per head, their combined shareholding is a mere 900 shares – fewer than the shares that I bought some years back with my own money and not acquired by the grace of the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

One other maddening thing is that overstaying directors have been blocking moves – with the connivance of the courts and other state agencies – to call a stockholders’ meeting to elect new directors and save the PHC.

The 2,500 or so stockholders, including the government, should do something about the looting of our company that has lost some P800 million in the hands of the old board.

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KICK ‘EM OUT!: It might help that PCGG Chairman Camilo Sabio, who got embroiled in a similar dispute over a stockholders’ meeting of the Manila Electric Co., had been prevailed upon to go on leave. (He should have been sacked outright.)

By saying that he would step down only when he and President Gloria Arroyo want, Sabio gave the impression that he has something on the First Family that gives him leverage and a surfeit of self-confidence.

Btw, the National Power Corp. is another company where people close to Malacanang are reportedly making killings that translate into unconscionable increases in the retail price of electricity.

A piece of good news the other day is that Napocor President Cyril del Callar has resigned. There are other key people who should go out with him.

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TOUGH TEST: As one who had helped, modestly, in the election of Pampanga Gov. Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio, I am distressed seeing him now twisting in the cruel winds swirling around the capitolio.

Some people who had been with him through the campaign and his early days as governor are now out. They are pushing recall or resign petitions or carrying placards denouncing mismanagement or the highhandedness of his administrator Vivian Dabu.

He faces a tough fight. He is up against vice lords and traditional politicians whose hold on the province was threatened when the priest-turned-politician marched in swinging a sword of reform.

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IMPASSE: The recall movement, which could die a natural death because of the built-in obstacles in the procedure, must gather some 100,000 voters’ signatures (or 10 percent of the 1.1 million voters) to prosper.

Gathering the signatures is easy. It is the tedious verification and validation of each and every name that could kill the recall petition.

Then there is the problem of a protest by losing gubernatorial candidate Lilia Pineda, wife of alleged jueteng lord Bong Pineda, getting in the way. How do we recall an official whose election is still in question because of a protest?

The problem of Capampangans is that their governor is stalemated by recall/resign petitions and is unable to get the cooperation of mayors and the provincial board.

A governor cannot run the province all by his lonesome. How do we break the impasse?

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MANDATE: If I may presume to offer unsolicited advice….

While there are many reasons for the opposition to Panlilio, one thing stands out: Many officials with whom the governor must work find his administrator too tough and abrasive.

It seems that Dabu, and Panlilio by extension, took over the capitolio with the all too obvious attitude that it was reeking with corruption. Assuming most or many people there were/are corrupt, the Panlilio team should not show disdain for them.

After all, the governor will have to work with them until they are purged. The Panlilio-Dabu tandem should have tried winning them over while reforming them and the system. After all, everybody is presumed innocent until proved otherwise.

As for the mayors and provincial board members, they have their own mandate given directly by the people. The governor cannot ignore this.

Note that Dabu, a mere creation of the governor, does not enjoy such a mandate.

* * *

THERE’S GREY: Dabu should be more diplomatic. Even if she senses that the person in front of her is incompetent or corrupt, she should not show it and close the door for constructive dialogue.

The universe is not black and white. In His infinite wisdom, God created a world with shades of grey all over.

The administrator should tame her impulses as a lawyer to put things in a tough-sounding memorandum outlining the supposed misconduct of the person on the carpet. You write things down in the first instance and everything stiffens.

There is the crucial option of first talking to people concerned, then finding out what the problem is and what possible solutions there are.

* * *

JUST QUIT: What seems to be lacking in the Panlilio governorship is political skill. Or the Dale Carnegie tack of winning friends and influencing people.

Running the capitolio through accusatory or antagonistic memoranda will not work.

The governor was insisting until yesterday that he has faith in the competence and good intentions of his administrator. His faith may be well-placed, but the situation has so deteriorated that the more she wiggles, the deeper she and her boss sink.

If the lady really cares for Among Ed and if she wants Pampanga to move forward, she should consider resigning. Pampanga is bigger than she is.

Dabu has to make it easier for the governor and everybody else by just quitting.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 21, 2008)

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