POSTSCRIPT / June 1, 2010 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Genuino has the gall to stay as Pagcor boss?

TAMA NA!: After fattening themselves off the mountain of gold that is the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., PAGCOR chairman Efraim Genuino and his cronies refuse to leave.

The news has it that Genuino & Co. had been given midnight reappointments by their patron who is already packed up to leave Malacanang. My barber says either they want more of the same or they have to stay to cover their tracks.

Even leeches drop off their host when they have been bloated full. There must be something with piles of dirty money that deadens one’s delicadeza.

Kumita na po kayo ng limpak-limpak. Tama na!

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WEAKEST LINK: When shopping for components for desktop computers that friends ask me to assemble for them, they often ask if it is all right to buy cheaper parts or to scrimp on some items.

My answer comes in the form of questions: What do you want the computer for? Will it be used mostly for routine word processing? Or mainly for games, or Internet browsing, or something else bizarre?

The idea is to tailor the do-it-yourself PC to the user’s present requirements as well as his growing needs in the next two years.

Remember, a computer is only as fast as its slowest component.

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SLOW DRAG: A personal computer may have the hottest motherboard out of Silicon Valley, but if you match the board with a cheap so-so processor, your PC will still not have the lightning speed you want.

Or if you had installed a good board-processor combination but scrimped on the RAM (random access memory), you might still fall asleep as your PC crawls through its startup routine or tries opening several applications simultaneously.

Or, all right, you have a superfast branded computer but if you connect to a dial-up Internet server or a broadband network that is usually overcrowded, you could still be bogged down in slow reaction time.

Remember, the slowest component in a computerized setup drags down the entire system.

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WORLD WAITS: That rule of thumb applicable to personal computers and networks comes to mind as I watch the painfully slow canvassing of the certificates of canvass of the recent semi-automated national elections.

It took the Commission on Elections just eight days after the close of the May 10 voting to authenticate and tabulate the votes garnered by some 60 senatorial candidates and declare afterwards the winners of the dozen Senate seats.

Yet, using the same CoCs that the Comelec had already used and validated, it looks like the Congress in joint session will take more than a month from May 10 to determine the winner of just two seats, those for the president and the vice president.

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FOOT-DRAGGING: All that the senators and congressmen have to do is add the numbers from the CoCs used by the Comelec and then announce the highest scores. A store clerk using an abacus can do the same arithmetic in less than a day.

Its slo-mo foot-dragging shows that the Congress is the slowest component in the semi-automated election process. To think that we spent more than P10 billion to gain speed on top of accuracy in the historic count!

The floor of Congress is already slimy with the saliva of garrulous legislators and the crocodile tears of defeated candidates complaining of automated cheating.

It looks funny, but it is not – that while the Congress pretends that it still does not know the winners for president and vice president, the entire nation and even foreign governments already know them.

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SUBIC ISSUES: Another costly delay that must be resolved soonest is the finalizing by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Administration of a contract with the best-qualified party for modernizing its port facilities and operations.

Since the withdrawal of giant FedEx and the shifting to Cagayan of used motor vehicle importers, Subic has been in the doldrums. It has been reduced to handling arrivals of grains, fertilizers and nothing much more.

Its import volume has so sunk that Subic-bound shipments are now slapped a surcharge of $500 per container, making Subic – which is not being promoted as a port of entry – less and less competitive.

Meanwhile, SBMA is worried about how to pay its gargantuan loan obligations aside from the pressure of raising money to fund infrastructure upgrades to remain competitive.

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TRANSPARENCY: The best approach of government in Subic is to be transparent in dealing with a project like the joint-venture deal entered into by SBMA with the Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc.

Cold comparative data show that the HCPTI unsolicited offer is substantially more advantageous to SBMA than the nebulous promises of complaining cargo handlers who want the business.

Harbour Centre guarantees a volume of 1.5 million metric tons with a guaranteed fixed fee of $500,000 to $1.5 million per year, while cargo handlers have made no guarantees as to volume and fixed fees.

Harbour Centre commits a minimum of $120 million in investments for modernizing facilities and services, but the others have not made any commitment.

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NO CHALLENGER: Interested parties were given enough time (30 days) to join in the Swiss Challenge to the SBMA-HCPTI deal, but none has come forward.

One party (Amerasia International Terminal Services Inc.) appeared unable to match the HCPTI offer to modernize the ports and guarantee for SBMA an income of $32 million in 25 years from wharfage, cargo handling fees and tariff.

Asian Terminal Inc. participated in the earlier bidding, but failed to submit bid documents in the Swiss Challenge.

Cargo handlers complain that giving the contract to HCPTI would result in a monopoly. But HCPTI points out that while it would be given the right to develop and operate five ports catering to bulk and break-bulk cargo, existing cargo handlers can continue their operations.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 1, 2010)

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