MANILA , JUNE 16, 2010
(INQUIRER.NET) By Neal Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer; Filed Under: Benigno Aquino III, Government, Overseas Employment

P-NOY’S FIRST PRESS CONFERENCE, RIGHT after his proclamation as president-elect by Congress, was very clear and straightforward. No hemming and hawing, no double-talk that most politicians usually engage in.



P-Noy clarified his priorities (midnight appointments, stopping graft and corruption, making the wheels of justice move faster, the budget deficit but no new taxes). He did his homework and came well prepared. His answers showed that he had been studying the nation’s problems for quite some time and has solutions for most of them. Journalists will be looking back at this press conference as he struggles through his first years as president to find out if he is succeeding or failing in his priorities.

One priority he would have a difficult time accomplishing is providing OFWs jobs here at home. The OFW phenomenon is really an anachronism. We spend trillions of pesos educating and training Filipinos for years only to see them leave for jobs overseas just when they become productive. We educate and train them but they use the skills they learned to serve overseas masters. And that includes teachers who are supposed to teach our young people.

Worse, the exodus of Filipino workers has broken up many families. But what can you do when there are no jobs for them here at home? Jobs with fantastic pay beckon from across the seas like a Pied Piper that Filipinos find hard to resist. So P-Noy’s plan to lure them back with jobs is good. How can we have a developed and progressive nation when our skilled workers leave our shores as soon as they get visas?

But that is easier said than done. Where will P-Noy get the jobs to give to the OFWs who will come home? We don’t even have enough jobs for those who stay home. That is why Pinoys are working overseas in the first place.

For example, we train a lot of nurses for the sole purpose of sending them abroad. Young men and women enter nursing schools with no other intention but to go abroad as soon as they get a visa and an airline ticket. Some workers risk being imprisoned or, worse, beheaded in the Middle East just to have a job, because they cannot get jobs here. That is a big challenge to P-Noy.

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At P-Noy’s proclamation, the five women in his life—sisters Ballsy, Pinky, Viel and Kris, and girlfriend Shalani Soledad—attracted as much attention as the president-elect himself. They all came in black, still in mourning for President Cory who died less than a year ago. They were all very beautiful and very reserved. Even Kris did not try to upstage anybody. And while the four sisters went up to the rostrum with their brother, Shalani stayed in the gallery.

“Ang gaganda nila,” I heard somebody say. And there were the inevitable speculations whether there would be a wedding in Malacañang during the first six years that P-Noy will be president. The consensus was that he should not keep Shalani waiting that long. Most Filipinos are already excited having her as first lady.

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P-Noy’s running mate, Sen. Mar Roxas who lost to Mayor Jejomar Binay in the race for the vice presidency, was missed by many. Mar would understandably hate to be present in Congress at that time. It would be very difficult to hide the tears in his eyes and the sadness in his heart. He gave up the LP presidential slot and handed it on a silver platter to P-Noy. He was expected to be the next vice president, only to be edged out by a dark horse. As in a horse race at the homestretch, Mar and his handlers were looking out for another horse who had a good racing record (Loren Legarda) only to have a third horse overtake them from the outside and beat them to the wire.

The most hurting was that he was betrayed by P-Noy campaigners (some say they were led by Kamaganak Inc.) who junked him for Binay. Just shows that in politics you can’t trust anybody, even your own party mates.

But after the one-year ban on the appointment of defeated candidates, you will see Mar in the Aquino Cabinet. He is so talented and experienced that it would be a waste not to harness his talents.

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The item here last Wednesday on the midnight promotions and the P1.6 billion loan by the Social Security System (SSS) to bankrupt PhilPost for an identification card project for SSS members jolted many people. I was deluged with mediators trying to explain the deal.

One is that the ID card and the billion-peso loan are not related. The loan is for the banking operations of PhilPost which will be used for remittances by OFWs. PhilPost has so many postal savings banks, more than any other bank, that it is most convenient for the families of OFWs.

As for the ID cards, PhilPost entered into a joint-venture agreement last Sept. 20, 2009 with Filmetrics Corp. to provide a comprehensive and integrated data service facility to government and private institutions using biometric data and identification systems technology.

Filmetrics submitted an unsolicited proposal under the guidelines of the National Economic and Development Authority which was subjected to a comprehensive two-stage challenge procedure that resulted in the declaration of its proposal as “the most responsive to the terms and conditions of the competitive challenge.”

In 2009, the SSS and All Cards Consortium signed a deal to produce 12 million ID cards for the SSS, which will pay P105 per card.

In 2010, PhilPost and the SSS concluded a deal wherein the former will enroll its postal ID system with the SSS so that the benefits of the postal ID can be enjoyed by the holders of SSS ID cards. In the same deal, the SSS will provide PhilPost a P1 billion loan which would be secured by real estate properties as collateral, for the upgrading and development of PhilPost’s remittance system.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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