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Biz Buzz: Cabinet man tantrum

business / Columnists
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Biz Buzz: Cabinet man tantrum

/ 05:32 AM August 09, 2017

Newly appointed government officials are always interesting interview subjects for the media, at least for the first few weeks. And this level of interest is even more pronounced when the new official is a key member of the country’s economic team.

So critical are the views of new Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. for both local and foreign investors that a team of journalists and a production crew from CNBC flew in from their their regional headquarters a few weeks ago to interview him.

In fact, no less than CNBC’s Martin Soong—one of the main anchors of the widely followed business channel —came to Manila to conduct the interviews, which were held at the Shangri-La at the Fort in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

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And so the interview with Espenilla was conducted and the new monetary policy chief acquitted himself well, outlining his views on the domestic and international economy and helping businessmen and investors get a better reading on the markets.

For the CNBC team, trips like this also presented opportunities to interview key Filipino business leaders and other government officials whose pronouncements may (or may not) be useful for their audience.

So they invited prominent interview subjects from the private and public sectors with the caveat that, unlike the long-running sit down interview with the BSP governor, the other guests would only have to endure a five-minute standup interview (as in, conducted literally standing up in front of a camera).

This was, of course, no problem for the likes of Aboitiz Power president Antonio Moraza, who spoke about the prospects of the conglomerate, as well as Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who answered probing questions about the power supply situation in the country.

But lo and behold! Here came another member of the government’s economic team who—to the surprise of the interviewers—asked why he was being subjected to a standup interview and not a longer (presumably more comfy) sit down setup like Espenilla’s.

Then came the next line which, bordering on being a tantrum, simply floored the organizers. According to our sources, this Cabinet man said something like: Why did you have me come all the way here from <bleep> (his office located somewhere in central Metro Manila) for only a five-minute interview? Don’t you know I outrank him (referring to Espenilla)?

So the flabbergasted TV crew proceeded to conduct the interview, only to notice that—because they had done their research well—the Cabinet man was spewing incorrect stats. They even pointed this out to him discreetly, shocked that someone in charge of economic numbers could get them wrong.

And the clincher? The Cabinet man answered in the affirmative when the interviewer asked him if he thought the Philippine economy was overheating. Twice. Wait… what?

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Maybe he was tired. Maybe the vehicular traffic was particularly bad that day, to come all the way to Taguig for just a five-minute standup interview, not befitting a key member of the economic team. Or maybe he was just a little out of it.

Whatever it was, the CNBC guys—too polite to show their displeasure right then and there—showed it in another way. The other interviewees got decent amounts of airtime, with Espenilla cornering the bulk of it, having two segments totaling almost 10 minutes of airtime.

What about the Cabinet man? Well, he got his airtime on the widely followed international business channel, too, but it all amounted to less than two minutes. To be exact, all 1 minute and 48 seconds of it. On hindsight, maybe his tantrum was retroactively justifiable huh? —DAXIM L. LUCAS

‘Chelsea’ on stage

Instead of enlisting any show biz professional to entertain guests during the listing ceremony for his company at the Philippine Stock Exchange yesterday, Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy decided to make it more meaningful—and sentimental—by bringing to the limelight the person after whom Chelsea Logistics was named. It’s his teenage daughter Chelsea, who performed Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” with a backup choir.

The color green was the theme for Chelsea’s listing, reflecting not just the dominant color in the company’s logo but also Uy’s alma mater. Philippine Stock Exchange chair and fellow De La Salle University alumnus Jose “Titoy” Pardo (who also chairs DLSU’s board) also pointed out during the listing ceremonies Uy’s Green Archer roots.

With Chelsea’s valuation unlocked, and with a number of new assets added to Uy’s holding firm Udenna Holdings, expect Uy’s ranking among the country’s wealthiest to surge. Yesterday’s listing of Chelsea, however, saw the shares closing 1.12-percent lower than the offer price. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA

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TAGS: Chelsea, CNBC’s Martin Soong, government officials, Nestor Espenilla Jr.
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