POSTSCRIPT / December 9, 2012 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Time is of the essence in ‘Pablo’ rescue, relief

FASTER!: The rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations in the area devastated by typhoon “Pablo” have to be sped up for those who may have survived the initial impact but later lose their lives if assistance is delayed.

President Noynoy Aquino’s signing Proclamation No. 522 declaring a state of national calamity due to the “severe gravity of the damage” will be of great help.

More than 400 persons were killed in this national tragedy and billions in property and crops lost. The entire nation suffers as a consequence.

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NATIONWIDE: The damage and the threat of collateral dislocation will not be confined to Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte in Region XI; Surigao del Sur in CARAGA Region; Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro City in Region X; Siquijor in Region VII; and Palawan in Region IV-B.

The proclamation will expedite the flow of local and international humanitarian assistance and control the possible rise in the prices of basic goods in the affected areas. Unless lifted, price controls will last for 60 days, giving ample breathing space for those affected.

The proclamation will allow government financing and lending institutions to give interest-free loans. Local governments will also have wider latitude in using emergency funds for relief and related operations.

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NOT UNILATERAL: President Aquino announced this week his having chosen Foreign Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio as Philippine ambassador to China. The news is all over and the foreign press has picked it up.

The President’s penchant for deciding things by himself has spread to diplomatic relations?

Has somebody rewritten the rules? In the proper old days, a sovereign’s choice of ambassador was first nominated to the receiving country before his name was trumpeted to the world.

If the prospective host approved of the nominee, it gave its agrément, which is its official approval of the proposed envoy.

The choice and the agrément were then simultaneously, not unilaterally, announced.

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WHAT IF…?: The better practice is for the President not to unilaterally announce his choice of an ambassador with the presumption that the country where the envoy is to be posted will accept him.

Suppose it does not welcome the nominee? There will be embarrassment all around.

Getting an agrément or acceptance from the receiving government is just one possible barrier.

There is also the matter of the appointment having to hurdle the Commission on Appointments first. Recall the similarly pre-announced appointment of a Chinese-speaking businessman who failed to gain CA approval despite Palace endorsement.

By the way, not that it is essential, but does Usec Basilio also speak Chinese?

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FRENCH TERMS: President Aquino took time to pronounce and explain the term agrément when he announced to the media Basilio’s being his choice.

There are other French terms that are widely misspelled in print media. Even Microsoft Word always “corrects” their spelling. Type “agrément” and Word’s Spellcheck quickly changes it to “agreement.” One always has to go back and spell it right.

Another tricky French word is “materiel” which refers to military materials and equipment, as opposed to personnel. There are some proofreaders (not in the STAR) who think they know better and correct “materiel” to “material” when they spot it.

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BPO EVENT: Last Wednesday, I went to a Networking Reception and Happy Hour at China Grill in New York City and met some BPO executives. Some of them have thriving BPO businesses in the Philippines.

The event was jointly organized by the Outsourcing Institute (OI), a global outsourcing network, the Philippine BPO IT Council, and the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce-New York, with the support of the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in New York.

Philippine attendees included the PhilAm Chamber, the Philippine BPO IT Council, and the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in New York taking advantage of the network offered by the OI to promote the Philippines as an IT/BPO location.

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ATTENDEES: Among those in the crowd were Butch Meily, PhilAm Chamber president; Warren H. Golden, president of NetcastBPO; Frank Casale, founder & CEO of the Outsourcing Institute; Michelle Fatima S. Sanchez, special Philippine trade representative and consul (commercial); and Judy Arteche-Carr, SIMNY Metro Board member.

Netcast’s Golden told us of his active BPO presence not only in California and Nevada but also in the Philippines. In the Clark Freeport Zone alone, he said, Netcast has 1,200 employees.

Earlier that day, the OI held a road show where outsourcing buyers learned the latest trends and practices in the industry and how the Philippines would fit into their business plans.

Founded in 1993, OI is the neutral source for information, especially on networking opportunities in the ITO and BPO arenas. It has some 70,000 members worldwide.

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VILLAR WARNING: The Villar Foundation, meanwhile, warns the public of text scams using its name and its reputation for charitable work.

The foundation clarifies that it does not have any raffle draws or contests nor does it have a cash assistance program. There have been text scams informing unwary victims that they have won prices from the Villar Foundation.

There will be more of similar scams, and demolition jobs, as the May 2013 elections draw nearer.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 9, 2012)

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