POSTSCRIPT / April 3, 2012 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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As Phl exports dropped, those of Clark rose 161%

CLARK FIELD – Many Capampangans were surprised yesterday by news that adopted cabalen Felipe Antonio B. Remollo was being replaced as president and chief executive officer of Clark Development Corp.

In less than one year after he took over on April 29, 2011, “Ping” Remollo was able to increase Clark Freeport Zone exports by 161 percent (from $1.4 billion in 2010 to $3.912 billion in 2011). Its earnings comprised eight percent of total Philippine exports.

His performance stands out, because while Clark’s exports rose, total Philippine exports dropped. This industrial base’s earnings are expected to improve with Remollo’s having signed 207 lease and expansion contracts, plus P22.9 billion in new investment commitments won in less than a year.

Under Remollo, Clark became the only freeport zone to have declared dividends, contributing over P100 million to the national coffers last year. Pushing employment by six percent, Clark has given jobs to 64,055 Filipinos hired by 1,047 locators in the 32,000-hectare zone.

Many of the workers are from neighboring towns, which fact has improved community relations of Clark. Under the Americans, Filipino workers in the former US facility numbered only 5,000 by the time Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991.

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WHY THE RUSH?: Remollo, a lawyer who was once mayor of the charming city of Dumaguete, has also introduced Clark to the world as an ideal venue for holding sports events and competitions such as baseball, softball, football, paintball, table tennis, taekwondo, athletics, golf, 4X4 challenge, duathlon, marathon, cycling and swimming.

He was on the upswing when word got around that his being accommodating to local leaders who are not totally yellow might cost him his job. When I asked him weeks ago about his reported impending exit, he said he had turned in his resignation to give the President a free hand.

Yesterday, it was announced during the flag ceremony here that Gen. Eduardo Oban, retired AFP chief of staff, was taking over both as CDC chairman and as OIC president.

Politics aside, and with “tuwid na daan” as the guiding path, why cannot they just keep Remollo until a regular president and CEO is chosen — while General Oban, a management expert and proven leader, sits on top of CDC as chairman?

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POLICE PISTOLS: It seems Malacañang is bent on buying more than 12,000 caliber 9 mm pistols for the Philippine National Police within a maximum total cost of P296 million, the single biggest arms purchase ever of the police.

One problem is that rival bidders frown on the new bidding’s still including a supplier whose weapon had failed in the 20,000-round endurance tests conducted last December by the PNP.

But since the bidding will be represented as totally new, everything from the re-allocation of the funds to the re-bidding will start from square one. It will be as if the last bidding did not happen.

As a citizen who trusts the police and would want them to have the best equipment that money can buy, I am not totally sold to conducting a bidding that compares apples and oranges.

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CARDS OPEN: Guns of the same caliber are not created equal. It is tricky comparing different gun models and their prices. The cheapest equipment may not always be the best.

In normal police work, or even in the lifetime of an officer, it is unlikely that a pistol will fire 20,000 rounds. In the last bidding, the PNP disqualified firearms supplier Armscor after its sample pistol, a Tanfoglio Force99, failed at around the 15,000-round stage.

I was among those who thought, logically, that the next higher bidders would then have their guns tested and a winner chosen from among them. But Malacañang wanted a new bidding.

Armscor’s bid was P16,868 for its Tanfoglio, followed by those of Armaments Unlimited offering its Beretta at P18,200, Trust Trade its Glock for P18,940, and R. Espineli Trading its Jericho at P22,680.

With all the bidders’ cards now open on the table, how will a second bidding shape up?

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REPUTATION KNOWN: Among gun enthusiasts, ordnance and procurement people I have asked was Nomer Obnamia of Ohio, a trusted source when it comes to guns. He said and I agree with him:

“The PNP will have problems if the offers received are for different brands. In the acquisition world we call the process comparing apple to apple, because the competing offers are for the same thing. It is insanity to bundle in one requirement two different brands because they have different features and quality so the prices vary.

“Therefore it could be unfair for the product with better quality with more features, because it will surely be more expensive than the product with lower quality and fewer features. But I’m not suggesting that a Glock can be inferior just because it may be priced lower than a Beretta.

“The US Army invited several prototypes when they replaced the .45 ACP with the 9 mm Beretta. The PNP is not issuing technical specification for manufacturers to produce. It is procuring a mature product that has been widely used, tested, and known to be used by civilians, law enforcement, military, and recreational shooters. Its reputation and performance are known.”

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NEGOTIATED PURCHASE: The well-known brands need not be tested like they were new inventions. The world’s biggest armies and military services have tested them to their full satisfaction.

The PNP which abound in gun enthusiasts and ordnance experts should just decide which is the best weapon for our policemen, then announce an open bidding FOR THAT MODEL. The selection should now be based not on the design but on the price.

But the selected superior model is likely to be carried only by one exclusive local distributor. This may preclude other bidders since the manufacturer, or the local dealer’s principal abroad, is not likely to compete. But other distributors in other countries should be welcome.

Let us go for a negotiated purchase for a pre-selected model. As the prices of guns are known, allow the PNP to negotiate for the best price. Get the best gun for our police at the best negotiated price.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 3, 2012)

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