What’s with the DOTr nowadays?
Why is it that this once high-performing department is now turning into a sloth and slacker, but more disturbingly, a PAL mafia?
One cannot help but miss how this department has been always in the news for the right reasons, especially in terms of updating us on amazing transport infrastructure projects that are in the works. It has jurisdiction over 19 agencies managing all our road, rail, sea and air including transportation security.
There is really so much to do, but right now, it is so eerily quiet that we wonder if Transportation Secretary Jimmy Bautista is either on extended leave or hiding from the media. Internally, what we hear is that there seems to be a turf war in the department, and it is palpable between its aviation and railways sector.
Insiders feel that Secretary Bautista is not so keen in hyping even the gargantuan railway projects, perhaps out of spite for the officials who were appointed there without his imprimatur. And the same insiders cannot help but notice how SJJB, as he is known in the department, is so in love with the Aviation sector that it is now practically his own kingdom.
And there are worries that with the PAL shadow looming large, the DOTr might suffer the same fate and the department run to the ground by his same lackluster style of management. And there is clear evidence of this.
SJJB wants a really tight grip on aviation so much so that he has been blocking appointments in the agencies under it that are not to his liking.
For instance, we obtained this copy of the official appointment of lawyer Jose Arturo “Jay-Art” Tugade as Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager, as signed by no less than President Marcos, but the DOTr has been hemming and hawing here, and would not want to make a formal announcement.
It does not help that under the current management of MIAA, problems that were already rid and were a thing of the past during the Duterte administration, such as sudden power outages, the long lines at check-in and immigration, delayed flights and chaos at the airport, are now being felt again by travelers.
While Malacañang seems to have recognized the problems at NAIA, thus finally appointing a GM, SJJB seems intent on blocking his appointment. Insiders think that this is because Atty Jay Art is not SJJB’s guy. If it is true that SJJB is really blocking his appointment, then is it not an outright defiance of a Presidential directive? That is one brave defiant move of what PBBM wants at MIAA.
What NAIA/MIAA needs is someone who can get things done no matter what! And with the chaos that has been happening in the past few weeks, we certainly think it is best for a Tugade to take the lead!
Serious due diligence of Fintech contractors needed
Former Congressman Jericho Nograles is calling on this administration to conduct serious due diligence on its financial technology contractors under the current fintech boom and the rush to digitalize.
In November, 2021, Nograles led the Congressional inquiry on the irregular contract between the Bureau of Quarantine and PisoPay, a fintech startup providing remittance and money transfer transactions. BOQ contracted PisoPay to help in the issuance of its International Certificate of Vaccination (ICV), commonly known as the “yellow card,” a requirement for outgoing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Filipinos requesting yellow cards paid P370 for a copy, of which P70 went to PisoPay. This P70 service fee was challenged and later deemed irregular because other government agencies are charging a lower fee of P30.
During the series of congressional inquiries, Nograles and other lawmakers discovered that PisoPay did not undergo the required bidding process. Also, PisoPay’s net financial capacity was insufficient, and was not qualified to enter contracts with the government. As a result, the BOQ terminated its contract with PisoPay.
But again, we heard that the same arrangements may soon happen and be repeated in other government agencies that wants accelerated digital transformation. I would advise them to heed Nograles’ clear warning.
“The PisoPay-BOQ fiasco was a disservice to the Filipino people,” . “We should not let this happen again.”, he reiterated. “The accelerated digital transformation requires the government to be more prudent in conducting due diligence on its potential partners,” ensuring that all contractors and partners are credible and have clean track records. These digital transaction services have monetary repercussions aside from involving personal, private data of people.
In the past, these fintech companies and line agencies bypassed procurement processes and charged hefty prices to consumers. This must stop.I agree with Nograles when he said there are a lot of credible fintech players today, but there are also those proven to overcharge consumers for personal gain.
In Latin, this means you have been warned.
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