POSTSCRIPT / July 11, 2010 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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PCGG 'bantay-salakay' stunts must be stopped

PHC NOTES: Re my Postscripts on the looting of the Philcomsat Holdings Corp. by carpetbaggers who had taken advantage of their Presidential Commission on Good Government connections, let me point out:

* I am a stockholder of long standing of the PHC, a publicly listed corporation. When I express concern over corporate problems, particularly the grand theft of PHC millions, I do not speak for anybody or any group. I speak on my own.

* When I report on our attempts to recover stolen funds, it is not out of contempt of the courts. I do not intend to influence the courts, knowing that any judge with honor and integrity cannot be swayed by press comments. (And if he can be so influenced, he is not worthy to be a judge.)

* The media must help expose and expel thieves disguised as PCGG agents sent to safeguard assets of sequestered firms. President Noynoy Aquino should declare that the days of PCGG “bantay-salakay” are over.

* The PHC has never been sequestered, but it was not spared. Some PCGG nominees sneaked into its board and proceeded to help themselves to its treasury. The Securities and Exchange Commission should zealously protect us stockholders.

* Lawyer Luis Lokin Jr. said his signature was forged on an alleged PHC resolution used to guarantee a personal P31.5-million loan of businessman Benito Araneta from the then foundering Bankwise. If he says so, we grant him that.

* With the removal of key PCGG officials, particularly its chairman, President Aquino should be careful not to replace them with persons related to known characters who have robbed PHC and other firms under the sway of the PCGG.

* * *

LIMIT LINE: This might seem like a minor detail, but inasmuch as President Aquino has made a big point of stopping at red lights, we might as well go all the way and enforce traffic rules strictly.

Look again at the pictures of the now famous Land Cruiser of President Aquino stopping at the red light. The vehicle is stopped all right, but half of its body is straddling the “limit line,” which is a violation in most jurisdictions.

Pasensiya na po. Let me explain at the risk of sounding pedantic.

The so-called “limit line” is that bold line just before the pedestrian lane. Next time you drive, look for it. The limit line is not decorative. It tells the driver where to stop at intersections.

* * *

GO MANUAL: When you stop, the nose of your vehicle must not protrude beyond the limit line. This allows safe and smooth crossing by people on the pedestrian lane (sometimes also referred too as zebra lines).

It is a worse violation to have your vehicle straddle the pedestrian lane and block (and endanger) people crossing the street.

It is not enough that your vehicle is not sitting atop the pedestrian lane. It should be stopped much earlier — BEFORE THE LIMIT LINE.

I hope the driver of President Aquino takes note. It is a seemingly minor detail, but mindless disregard of the small things create bad driving habits that may lead to bigger violations.

Btw, the President need not encounter any red light and be unnecessarily delayed. The traffic lights could be switched to manual and manipulated to turn green just as the President’s convoy heaves into view.

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FRESH AIR: Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. is like a whiff of fresh air in the charged atmosphere where mutual suspicion seems to color everything.

Talking candidly to Malacanang reporters Thursday night, Ochoa tried – and succeeded, I think – to dispel misimpressions that the outgoing Arroyo administration was making transition difficult.

He went so far even as to say that they (Aquino transition party) had their own shortcomings that may have ruffled what should be a smoother takeover.

He said they felt awkward hitting the Arroyo camp and then meeting with them for the transition. He said he found Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza and Presidential Management Staff head Len Bautista nice to work with.

* * *

MASS LAYOFF: It is obvious that the transition will take time — not because anyone is obstructing it, but because of the sheer nature and volume of the matter involved.

If only other members of the Aquino camp could take the same attitude as Ochoa, we would see normalization earlier, enabling the new administration to shift faster to pursuing its plans and programs.

The executive order for the mass layoff of senior personnel who do not have career executive certificates is one example of a rash judgmental move reminiscent of the replacement of officials under the Cory Aquino revolutionary government.

In the Department of Science and Technology, for instance, scores of scientists holding PhD’s are being laid off just because they do not have CESO papers. Arbitrarily removing them would cripple the department.

Maybe the hotheads in the Aquino camp should be sent to the shower to cool off and not create more enemies and critics for the President.

* * *

LOW-KEY: Ochoa gave assurance that the administration will not be whimsical or arbitrary in its treatment of personnel. He said Malacanang would not issue orders contrary to law.

He is a low-key executive who prefers to work quietly. He was the city administrator for nine years of then Quezon City Mayor (now congressman) Sonny Belmonte, but hardly anybody was aware of it.

He said: “I abhor being in the limelight. I’m not used to media. I’m used to working behind the scenes.”

To the press, he said: “We’re helping our country, not ourselves. You are our medium to the public. You are the source of news. So as much as possible, we want to try to put out positive news. But we will not tell you how to do your job.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 11, 2010)

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