Corruption Starts At The Top

The previous government were as corrupt as any other Filipino administration has been. This Police Helicopter matter is either a case of someone pocketing the change or incompetence. My money is on the former, not the latter. These men are not idiots. They have all graduated from the Philippine Military Academy or the Police equivalent, they are educated and intelligent professionals. Someone, or more likely a bunch of someones was getting a nice little earner for paying full whack for whacked out whirly birds! Note the buck passing and wriggling going on. No doubt someone down the food chain and most likely a person who never took a centavo will cop some flak over this while the big name keep their snouts in the trough.


Lawmakers baffled over purchase of ‘second hand helicopters’

Thursday, July 28, 2011

SENATORS were baffled Thursday by a decision by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to buy second hand helicopters at brand-new prices.

Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said he could not comprehend why the PNP paid full price “when two of these choppers are actually more than five years old, flying for hundreds of hours already.”

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Police Director Luizo Ticman, chairman of the bids and negotiations committees in the purchase of “brand new” used helicopters in 2009, told the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Thursday that he did not study the project proposal.

He said he relied on recommendations from Police Director Leocadio Santiago, then commander of the PNP SAF, who received the helicopters. He said he also relied on the PNP inspection team that was in charged to check the units.

He said, however, that nobody influenced the negotiations committee to favor the deal with Manila Aerospace Parts and Services Corp (Maptra).

It was found that Maptra indicated on its bid documents that two of the helicopters were “service center condition” and not brand new.

Police Superintendent Claudio Gaspar Jr., from the PNP inspection team, confirmed that the helicopters were second hand.

He said he had flown the helicopters before, as early as 2004, when he was detailed to the Office of the President.

Among his passengers were members of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s family, he said.

He said, however, that he did not tell higher ups that the helicopters were not new because he was not asked. He said he wasn’t told that they were supposed to be factory-fresh units.

“I thought they knew,” he told senators.

It was also found that the Inspection and Acceptance Committee, to which the inspection team reported to, was not at the actual inspection of the helicopters.

Of four members who signed approval of the deal, only Police Senior Superintendent Edgar Pataan was present. He said he was not a pilot and could not tell if the units were new.

In any case, he said, there were no instructions to find out if the helicopters were brand new.

“If it was flying in 2004 and was sold in 2009, obviously, that’s second hand. I don’t think you need technical competence for this,” he said.

Ticman said bidding on the proposed purchase of three light operational helicopters failed so the project was referred to the negotiations committee. The only other bidder, Beeline, asked a higher price for three Enstrom helicopters, he said.

Senator Sergio Osmena III, who was also at the hearing, said Beeline’s
bid was just P2,000 higher for three brand new helicopters.

The PNP said Beeline’s offer did not conform to contract requirements because it did not have air-conditioning. It was found later that the Robinson Raven helicopters did not have air-conditioning either.

Police ‘fooled’ in chopper purchase

Police Chief Superintendent Herold Ubalde told the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that “apparently, there was deceit” in the purchase.

The Philippine National Police earlier presented a sworn statement from Hilario De Vera, president of Maptra that the helicopters he was selling to the PNP were brand new. The document was submitted as a post-qualification requirement, Ubalde said.

Senator Franklin Drilon said the papers for the sale of the helicopters from Lion Air Inc. to Maptra clearly indicated the helicopters were second hand. He said delivering units of a different quality than promised was a “classic case of estafa (fraud).”

But lawyer Luis Rivera, at the hearing on behalf of Maptra, said the company “has no capacity to deceive the PNP.” He said Maptra would submit its records on the sale at the next hearing.

Police Director George Piano, former director for logistics, said they accepted the units on the presumption that they were brand new.

Drilon said after the hearing that Piano is “indispensable to this entire mess.”

“It was only because he accepted these helicopters as being consistent with the supply contract that payment was made,” he explained.

Guingona said the police officials should not close ranks or they may all be found liable for the anomalous purchase. (Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex)

Call Centers Can’t Cut It In Cebu

Reprinted below in accordance with the usual standards of copyright infringement prevalent in the Philippines (actually beyond those standards as I have given full accreditation to the source and writer!) is an interesting article. So many of us have called for assistance and been put through to a call center (Business Process Outsource company) in Manila or Cebu and become frustrated at how the operator seems to be reading from a script. Ask them something not covered by the script and they tend to simply ignore you and go back to the start of their script. Perhaps hoping somehow your problem will change and fit their script all of a sudden. If, until now you thought you were imagining this, take heart. It is a problem that has been noted and hopefully will be addressed. Personally I don’t care if call centers are not in my home state, what I want is a resolution, yet too many times this isn’t happening for reasons included here. I have a friend who hates having to call PayPal simply because they use a Philippines based BPO and the script is so tight you can barely get past ‘hello’. Of course it is not the fault of the operators who are only trying to do their best, make a living and hang on to their jobs.

It does identify a problem with the quality of the education people pay a lot of money to get and it seems it is letting them down. Well, it is if you want to hire good quality employees and not be prepared to settle for half trained, half educated applicants that seems to be what’s happening in Cebu at the moment.

Lack of workers slows BPO growth

By Mia A. Aznar

Thursday, July 28, 2011

THE business process outsourcing sector may be one of the fastest growing in the country, players admit there are just not enough qualified personnel that would allow them to expand even faster.

Butch Sison of Convergys said they remain “hopeful and passionate” about the industry’s growth in Cebu but admitted that some two-thirds of clients wanting to acquire services from their Cebu branches had to be turned down because of the lack of talent.

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Sison said that this could have meant 1,500 jobs. He said the sad part is, these required skills from level one agents.

“The inavailability of talent is critical,” he said, adding that the smaller BPO companies end up “keeping them afloat” by accepting new graduates and training them before they leave and get accepted to Convergys with better capabilities.

While Sison noted that most regions in the world can barely keep pace with the industry’s growth, he fears big companies will want to start looking around for other areas if Cebu doesn’t act quickly.

Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP)’s Jojo Ligan said the industry could grow easily at 50 percent if only there were enough qualified applicants who could fill these positions.

Instead, they only end up hiring 20 to 30 out of 100 applicants because not all of them meet the qualifications.

The good news, Ligan said, is that this problem is not unique to the Philippines.

BPO executives, however, find it an advantage that Cebu is a small area and that most managers know each other, making employees hesitate about jumping from one company to the next.

Accenture’s Ray Marañon assured they are satisfied with their location in Cebu, as they recently opened a second facility.

“We are bullish about our growth for the next five years,” he said.

While Cebu’s entry-level salaries are much higher than other cities beginning to open up to BPOs, Sison said challenges that prevent other cities from scaling up will prevent them from considering them as alternate locations and that they would rather stick it out in locations like Cebu.

Aside from a specific set of skills, Sison hopes the academe will produce graduates who can actually converse well with foreign clients.

He said the problem is not grammar of having flawless accents.

He noted that many cannot seem to converse with clients properly without sounding rehearsed.

What is important, he said, is to be able to connect to other human beings they are speaking to and let their personalities shine through the call.

He said teaching the traditional way of speaking may not be the right way to train students and suggested that the academe challenge traditional ways of teaching that would enable them to communicate effectively.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 29, 2011.


Even More Holidays For Pinoys

It was reported in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on the 23rd July that the President will grant another holiday, or in Pinoy speak, a ‘non-working day’. This time it will be for Eid ul-Fitr, the end of the Islamic observance called Ramadan. Tuesday, August 30 is the chosen day, which will come right on the heels of National Heroe’s Day on Monday the 29th. With the weekend this makes for a four day break except, of course, if you are a government employee required to work on the Saturday. So what is the real agenda here? Muslims make up about 5% of the population at best. Is this part of the Islamification of the world, or just a grab for some votes in Mindanao?


Age Limit Up In Angeles

The token lip service shown the other week in arresting owners, patrons and staff of only Foreigner Owned bars in Angeles city has brought about talk of increasing the age limit for licensed staff working in these bars from 18 to 21 . That would be a very positive move and lessen the chances a 16 year old (or younger) could bribe her local officials into issuing a city ID claiming she was 18. At the very least it would make it easier for owners to insist on more proof for the really young looking applicants. Will this make much difference overall? We doubt it.

In the Filipino owned bars that cater mainly to the local trade it will make no difference whatsoever if the owner chooses to hire 14 year olds. He will rely on his barkarda, his connections and his local clout as always. It is all so obvious to those who understand the psyche of the Filipino, especially when it comes to getting one over on the foreigner. One can’t really blame them, given how they were messed around for so long by the Spanish in the name of the church, then the Americans just took over even after the Filipinos had beaten the Spanish in a fair fight called the Kapitunan Revolution of 1896-98. They have to put up with a culture that idolises anything from overseas as being superior to the Pinoy version, has half the population doing whatever they can to have lighter skin tones (whitening cream is the No1 selling item in drug stores everywhere) and of course people throwing in English phrases amidst their Tagalog just to show they are upscale enough to speak Taglish.

All of which is fair enough. It is their country and if one moves there and operates a business then one must expect the playing field to be less than level. Regardless of how it might be level for them back home should they come to your country and set up shop, this isn’t your country, it is theirs. This is how it is, get used to it. The thing is, you can play the game their way, too. You will never be as good at it or as well connected but you can use the same two faced set of ‘rules’ to your advantage. Always pick your battles carefully and make sure you have more money and connections than the other guy. Don’t hesitate to treat people like dirt and use them to your own advantage and never, ever feel remorse or pity for anyone less fortunate than you. That’s their lot in life and not your fault so ignore them if you can and use them if you can’t. Remember, this is a catholic country so you will be forgiven your sins and the lot of the less fortunate will be much better when they go to heaven so why worry? See, they’ve got it covered.

Either follow those simple rules or don’t compete with locals for the peso. Go back to your own country and run your business there or enjoy living in the Philippines and make your money online, offshore or somewhere other than the Republic of the Philippines. Walay problema, di ba!

Say It Ain’t So, Mr Honest Filipino!

Well, seems when the police raided the Blue Nile bar the other night and took away a stack of employees as well as the bar owners… they also loaded a bus with patrons and took them to Manila. They arrested foreign tourists and took them to Manila where they could be held and pressured until they paid huge amounts of money to be released. Don’t believe me? Two patrons kept their cool and repeatedly told the police they were not getting on the bus unless they were properly informed of what they were being arrested for. They knew their rights and insisted on due process. Too troublesome to risk taking with them so they were allowed to leave. These two old hands knew enough not to jump up and down and make a lot of nose, they quietly refused to board the bus until they were told the reason for arrest. If they had made a fuss the cops would have lost face and grabbed them anyway.

Meanwhile the other patrons were taken away and as they were mostly tourists here for a short stay, no doubt they paid up and left as soon as they could to avoid further hassle. Being held illegally and falsely arrested would mean a long wait in a slum sewer of a jail (why they can’t even maintain a decent jail let alone a country beats me) and forever going to court to have hearings delayed and so on.

Did the cops raid the Filipino bars where the girls are kept as virtual sex slaves? No. They raided the foreigner owned bars where the girls come and go as they please. Did they raid the Japanese or Korean owned bars? No again because nobody messes with the Yakuza or Korean version, those guys shoot back. So a few greedy cops have, in the name of retaining grants from the US for fighting people trafficking, killed off the goose laying all the golden eggs in Angeles and every province in the country. Just as Lim did to Ermita in the early 90s to make way for his Chinese buddies to buy all the real estate cheap, all this will do is close down the well run establishments that provided a ton of money for the local economy.

Morality aside as far as prostitution is concerned, the reality is that the Philippines has little else to offer the tourist compared to other parts of S.E. Asia. Better infrastructure and no threat of kidnapping by NPA or Abu Sayaff not to mention more varied cuisine lure more to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, even Vietnam and Cambodia than to the Philippines. The scuba diving is no better than in other tropical countries and the getting there and back is often a lot simpler and more comfortable, not to mention safer in neighboring countries. With the catholic church keeping the population rate doubling all the time it is only a matter of time before the place collapses. The rich don’t care as they have their condos in the USA and Spain among other bolt holes. Those who can get out are doing so and have been doing so for decades, keeping the place afloat with the money they send back. Many families do nothing except wait for the remittances, then spend them. Industry is not setting up new factories in the Philippines and those already there are relocating because it is cheaper and simpler to do so. Wake up Kababayans, the double standards that are such an intrinsic part of your society are going to double back and bite you on those proud, swelled chests.

If It’s So Bad, Why Stay?

Good question. The thing is the tourists are staying away. Angeles is the deadest it has been since Pinatubo, according to some long term local expats. Who can blame the tourist when he can get his low cost sex and alcohol in Thailand, Cambodia, Mexico and Ecuador or Guatemala. Food’s better and the hassles are much less, plus the infrastructure works better. Plenty of long term expats are selling up and leaving, but just as many seem to be turning up, too.

The thing is, once you find your Filipina and get away from the bar scene the country has a lot to offer. It is a great family oriented environment for bringing up kids. While the education standard is low unless you can afford a top notch private school, it is adequate. Many expats home school their kids. Those without children enjoy the low costs for most things, although living a western standard of life as far as food is concerned means you spend pretty much the same you would back home. Eating native on the other hand can be very inexpensive, if you can hack it. Liquor, cigarettes and other pleasures are cheap and you can get pretty much anything you want and definitely everything you need somewhere in the country.

Corruption and incompetence are everywhere but if you expect this and just make allowances then it doesn’t seem to bother most. You get used to it. You lower your expectations regarding service and comprehension and if you want to be fair, despite the official claims as to how much they speak English, you learn the local dialect and become fluent in it. Most expats never learn more than a few words, which is sad. The other thing you need to do is to socialize with people in a similar income bracket and education level. Most Filipinos have not had the benefits of your education and while the poor can be honest and trustworthy you have to allow for some leeway. The very wealthy don’t need to know you and unless you join the local golf club or Rotary you probably won’t meet too many upper middle class Filipinos, either.

Bottom line you make it what it is. The Philippines is what it is, whether you are there or not. It is up to you to adapt, to accept to adjust, not them. This doesn’t mean you can’t find fault, of course you can. If they were to go to the USA or wherever they would find fault and make comparisons and they should be allowed to do so. We make scathing criticisms here on a regular basis but this site is not aimed at the Filipino, but the foreigner. Forewarned is Forearmed. What we don’t want is someone going there wearing rose tinted glasses, expecting every Filipina to be honest, loyal, loving and beautiful and that they will be welcomed and treated like a knight in shining armor come to make everything right. As Quezon said, “I would rather see the Philippines run badly by Filipinos than run like clockwork by foreigners’. He got his wish but nobody put a gun to your head and made you come here, did they?

Who Do You Trust?

It turns out, according to several sources actually in Angeles City itself, that the police raided several establishments the other night and arrested some 400 GROs, bargirls. If past raids are anything to go by, several of those girls will have been raped while in police custody. All will be told if they post silly numbers for bail money they will be released. Of course they won;t have the money and so some will be able to buy their way out with sexual favors, others will simply be used by the misogynistic cops. The average Filipino male is not known for his emancipated views on equality of the sexes at the best of times and those in a position of power over someone else, less so.

The reason Smith was arrested was apparently because two of his staff are underage. Forget the fact that they produced official, Angeles City approved ID, backed by National Bureau of Investigation ID that they are over 18 , who they claim and have no criminal history. That is irrelevant in the Land Of Lip Service. It is not the responsibility of the government to provide authentic ID or prevent abuses and the issuance of false ID for favors and fee. No, it is the duty of the foreigner to make sure despite all the checks and balances required by law being in place, that these girls are of age. Please! yet go down the street to a Filipino owned bar and the girls are underage WITHOUT fake ID yet the owner is related to some petty official and pays the right people.

Welcome to da Pilipeens. If anyone doubts this post, feel free to prove me wrong. Not to any Filipino standard of proof such as ‘dat is our pride’ kind of standard. Proof. We can produce dozens of sworn affidavits as to what we know and have seen. Including statements from bar girls raped in custody.  As for the fate of Smith, it all depends on how much he has to pay and who he pays it to. Forget justice. Court cases dragging on for years due to incompetence, corruption and greed… forget it. Pay up and get the hell out of Dodge is our advice.