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The P74-B PLDT-Digitel deal

/ 03:47 AM April 04, 2011

THE BUSINESS types are still talking about the acquisition of Digitel Telecom by giant PLDT for a whopping P74.1 billion, with critics saying that there should be an anti-trust law to prevent takeovers like this. Telecommunications is not like an ordinary business, they said. Telecom companies are given exclusive franchises to limited airwaves and buying a rival company with a franchise is like buying the franchise that can only be awarded by Congress. PLDT’s Manny V. Pangilinan may have gone around the law with the PLDT-Digitel deal, critics say. For which reason the Securities and Exchange Commission said it has not yet approved the deal. Indeed, MVP is being viewed as the new Pacman gobbling up interests in many crucial sectors of business and industry, with some critics airing the fear that he may be laundering Indonesian money with his investments.

For their part, consumers are afraid that PLDT would throttle Sun’s popular unlimited calls and text services and that this will eventually lead to higher telco prices.

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“That’s not going to happen,” says PLDT president Polly Nazareno. PLDT’s plan is to keep offering Sun’s “unlimited” packages and to further improve them. Nazareno explains that there’s a market for these services and that PLDT aims “to be the best in service in that market.”

Maybe so, but for how long? counter the critics.

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Doubters say PLDT will keep Sun shining long enough for people to become complacent and not notice the “unlimited” services fading away and resulting in higher rates.

PLDT executives say otherwise. They say the Sun brand has become too valuable an asset to simply throw away. More importantly, there is a market for unlimited services. And that will not go away. So PLDT has good reason to keep the Sun shining day and night and on and on.

* * *

The worst thing that can happen to an educational institution is a scandal that can destroy reputation and integrity it had carefully nurtured through the years. St. Jude Medical College is facing this kind of tempest after one of its professors was dragged into a scandal involving a student. The professor is now in hot water after one of his students accused him of posting indecent photos of her in a social networking site.

The professor has resigned to pre-empt the suspension that school authorities had imposed on him but the damage he has wrought on the school continues to reverberate.

Some critics were quick to condemn St. Jude officials for taking in a morally reprehensible professor, an outcry that put the school in a bad light.

The reality is that the likes of that professor are present in all professions and vocations—among government officials, law enforcers, doctors and heck, even among priests.

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These “bad eggs” exist among us and they spoil the hard work that the “good eggs” have painstakingly labored to improve the image and stature of their ranks. To be sure, St. Jude Medical College will suffer some fallout from the scandal but that is inevitable. It can only find comfort from the fact that other schools faced more earth-shaking scandals and survived.

Scandals like this serve to test the resolve of institutions and they will ultimately be judged on how they dealt with the issue.

At the first report of the incident, St. Jude officials acted quickly to sanction the professor who quickly resigned after being suspended. It also immediately warned and reminded its faculty and staff that they would be meted out with the same penalty at the slightest indication of irregularity, to ensure the protection of its students.

It also assured the public that its teaching staff continues to undergo anti-sexual harassment seminars.

* * *

So much for the bad news. Now for the good news:

This is the news that the logs confiscated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will be put to good use.

DENR’s operations against illegal logging often result in the confiscation of logs and lumber which are then sold at public auction. And who wins in these public auctions? The illegal loggers themselves!

So the logs were donated to various beneficiaries in accordance with a presidential memorandum.

DENR has an inventory of some 17,608 cu.m. (7.47 million board feet) of confiscated logs donated or set aside for donation to the Department of Education.

About 796,749 board feet covered by the deeds of donation have been turned over to the DepEd. However, of the 16 regions where donations were made, only seven regions reported utilization of the donated logs, either for the repair of school buildings or the manufacture of school desks and chairs. Most schools have no funds, know-how and workers to turn the logs into schools and furniture. Yet the DepEd purchases about P1 billion worth of desks, chairs and tables every year. Also, the DepEd has a perennial shortage of classrooms and desks.

Now comes the happy solution: the “P-Noy Bayanihan, a Partnership for Education and Livelihood” project. The DENR, the DepEd, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) signed an agreement to produce school furniture.

The DENR will provide the confiscated logs, TESDA the trained workers and Pagcor P100 million to fund the project. Education Secretary Armin Luistro said the donation will be very useful in filling up the shortages in schools. And TESDA said the project will provide its graduates the needed training and experience.

Pagcor Chairman Cristino Naguiat said the P100 million will be used for the retrofitting of existing TESDA and DepEd facilities, as well as woodworking facilities that will be established in 10 sites nationwide.

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TAGS: acquisition, antitrust issues, business, education, scandal, telecommunication services
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