“I was thinking that hijacking can only be done in the open seas, but not in land-based terminals”
it is customary to give incoming administrations a honeymoon period as a show of support and good faith, but even traditions must give way when very dangerous tendencies start rearing their ugly heads.
And that is exactly what happened when incoming ES Vic Rodriguez announced the appointment of Christopher Pastrana as General Manager of the Philippine Ports Authority.
The appointment reportedly caught the two other members of the screening committee, Naida Angping, and Anton Lagdameo, by surprise.
More importantly, the appointment was announced at the same time as that of incoming DOTR Secretary Jimmy Bautista, even before the latter has accepted. And that was critical because PPA is an agency attached to the DOTR, such should have been vetted with him.
That courtesy was extended to incoming Finance Secretary Ben Diokno, who had a say in the appointments of the respective heads of BSP, BIR, and BOC.
But not in the case of PPA. And the plot thickens, once one starts going deeper to find out who Pastrana is, and who his business partner is.
Pastrana is the President of two companies- Archipelago Philippines Ferries Corporation and Philharbor Ferries and Port Services, Inc.
On the other hand, Pastrana’s daughters own Philippine Archipelago Ports and Terminal Services, Inc. APFC owns FastCat. PFPSI and PAPTSI both operate PPA port terminals.
Pastrana’s brother-in-law is another big port operator. His name is Rommel Ibuna, and he owns Prudential Customs Brokerage Services, Inc.
Pastrana, his daughters and his brother-in-law operate over 18 ports, more or less 20 percent of the ports operated by PPA.
These considerations should have legally disqualified Pastrana from being appointed to PPA, or to any other government agency that regulates his businesses.
But it seems that ES Rodriguez failed to see this, even if Pastrana’s business partner is Dennis Trajano, Rodriguez’s bilas (their wives being sisters).
Trajano, in fact, sits as Chairman of the board of all three companies.
But wait, there’s more, Pastrana’s brother-in-law is also a port operator himself, a certain Rommel Ibuna.
As a result, Pastrana will end up regulating not only his businesses and those owned by his brother-in-law, but also lord it over the businesses of their competitors.
And here I was thinking that hijacking can only be done in the open seas, but not in land-based terminals. Think again.
Another area of concern for the new administration is that of the Metro Rail Transit 3 which is, again, under the DOTr.
According to sources within the MRT3, Michael Capati, who was designated as OIC-General Manager and Director for Operations, has been lobbying to be retained under the present leadership.
However, this early, employees of the agency are raising opposition against Capati following his announcement he would indeed be retained.
This writer has been furnished a copy of a letter sent by Gary Kenneth Alpapara, president of the MRT3 Employees Association sent to President Bongbong Marcos through ES Rodriguez.
In his letter, Alpapara is raising issues against Capati, the details of which follow:
a) Allegedly disregarding the main objective of the Agency which is the safety of the passengers, employees and property with his deliberate order to run the train even if it has severe technical problems;
b) Allegedly making false report to DOTr regarding the operations of MRT3 denying the trains encountering technical problem and that no unloading in the MRT3 has ever happened under his watch;
c) Deploying 20 trains plus three additional during the pandemic up to the present without Off-Peak, disregarding the cost-cutting measures; d) Hired job orders and contract of service with high salaries than regular employees which are redundant in duties with those presently employed; and,
e) Issued Office Order 2022-0173 directing employees to render nine hours of duty without additional compensation.
Aside from those, Alpapara alleges Capati has pending cases before the Ombudsman (This writer is still trying to confirm this).
In both cases, that of Pastrana’s and Capati’s, and even in other appointments and those still to be made, this new government has to take necessary caution as whatever performance these appointees will deliver will be reflective on the administration.
For the longest time, the Marcoses have been vilified to the max, painted as the most evil family, all in the name of politics. But they have been lucky enough as the people are now rejecting the anti-Marcos narrative, and in fact, they have been given this rare chance for them to vindicate their family’s name and come out clean.
And this writer is among the millions of Filipinos who are hoping this opportunity doesn’t get wasted.
There is no second chance. They simply cannot afford to start on the wrong foot.