POSTSCRIPT / June 17, 2012 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Pacquiao has peaked, may decide to retire?

HANG THE GLOVES: We join his millions of admirers in welcoming home boxing legend Manny Pacquiao — forever champion in our hearts — on his return from that controversial fight last June 9 in Las Vegas.

What we say here will not matter, but we still insert our minority opinion that Pacquiao should consider retirement after he gets a favorable verdict in the review of his recent loss to Timothy Bradley.

This observer is one of those who think that Pacquiao has peaked, or is peaking, at age 33, compared to 28-year-old Bradley who appears to be on the way up. A rematch may prove disastrous.

The gentleman from General Santos and Sarangani looks distracted, which is fatal to one who must be in top physical and mental condition, and focused, when he goes up the ring.

At this point, Pacquiao must decide if he wants to be a ring fighter, a politician, a preacher, a showbiz star, or what. He cannot be everything.

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P-NOY RATING DOWN: It is uncanny that President Noynoy Aquino may be similarly peaking. In fact, if he fails to play it right, he could be a lame duck politico after the 2013 elections.

Malacañang said it was baffled with the continuing plunge in the President’s approval rating nationwide, except in Mindanao.

His advisers, especially spokesman Edwin Lacierda, need not wonder considering the gaping gap between presidential promises and performance.

During the 2010 campaign and on to his first year in office, the President made many promises and raised the expectation of a nation reeling from the problems that plagued the previous administration.

The masses have been waiting for the President to alleviate joblessness, poverty and hunger, curb criminality, and attend to other basic concerns.

A statistical phenomenon is that once a high-profile leader’s poll rating starts to drop, it usually takes a miracle to resurrect it.

* * *

LONG WAIT: Applicants for drivers’ licenses and those renewing their licenses used to wait only for about an hour. Now a million applicants each month have to wait indefinitely until a policy confusion is cleared up.

The reason: the Land Transportation Office has stopped the issuance of licenses after the private supplier shifted from plastic to paper form for the licenses without prior approval of LTO.

LTO Chief Virginia Torres was reportedly surprised when Amalgamated Motors Philippines Inc., the supplier, informed her of its arbitrary shift to paper form in a letter dated June 5, 2012.

* * *

LICENSE FEATURES: The letter signed by AMPI Vice President Eraño Cuevas also called the attention of all LTO regional directors of the change in the card material and some license features.

Cuevas wrote that AMPI “has undertaken necessary changes and revisions to the present drivers’ licenses, equipments and system. Additionally, security features were enhanced to ensure that incidents of fake and spurious drivers’ licenses will be reduced, if not outrightly eradicated, no more fading, peeled off or brittle IDs.”

However, these “security features” have not been seen before nor tested by authorities at the LTO or the Department of Transportation and Communication above it.

* * *

RECEIPT ONLY: Torres had to contact LTO regional directors to stop the conversion, advising them that AMPI’s shift to paper has not gone through the required bidding nor authorized by the DOTC and the LTO.

Anyone applying for a driver’s license now has to wait indefinitely. The applicant will be issued in the meantime a receipt confirming that he had successfully applied or renewed his license.

The old (expiring) licenses will be surrendered, and the new license will be good for three years. But for some reason some LTO offices had been allowed to issue temporary drivers’ licenses on paper.

* * *

OPEN TO SUIT: One wonders at Cuevas’ audacity to unilaterally change the form and features of the driver’s licenses nationwide. Somebody must have told him to go ahead or he misunderstood instructions.

It will be recalled that Torres had long ago voiced her preference for paper licenses over plastic, a policy shift that was seen as favoring AMPI.

Some transportation figures said that Torres now had to countermand AMPI’s memorandum on the issuance of paper licenses to protect herself. The shift without bidding may open her and AMPI to legal action.

* * *

NO CONTRACT: It is interesting that DOTC Executive Director Alfonso Tan said, “We disallowed the new design, pending evaluation and approval by the LTO and the DOTC.”

For the past 28 years, AMPI has been the supplier of drivers’ licenses. The firm has been operating since 1984.

Its contract actually expired in 2003. A bidding was to be conducted by the LTO for a new P500-million contract amid accusations that the terms had been tailor-made for a favored bidder.

But AMPI secured a court injunction and was thus able to continue its operations by virtue of a “quantum meruit.” This is a legal term that means “as much as he deserves.” It is sometimes used to continue a service without a contract.

* * *

DOTC PROJECT: To centralize the computerization services of the entire department, the DOTC is bidding out the LTO-IT Project, the contract for which is expiring in February 2013.

The department has a new DOTC-Information and Communications Technology Project which includes changing drivers’ licenses from plastic to paper and centralizing procedures for the motoring public.

Some officials said they got the impression from AMPI’s moves that Cuevas wants to tell DOTC that there is no more need to bid out the paper feature as AMPI is already using it.

Is the Aquino administration condoning this?

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 17, 2012)

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