Biz Buzz: PPP, or Plagiarized Policy PaperBy the staff
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The acronym PPP, more popularly known as public-private partnership, nearly took on an ugly meaning for the Philippines as a foreign consultant tapped to draft the country’s comprehensive PPP policy statement unabashedly came out with a blueprint that was strikingly similar to an existing online resource.
This consultancy firm, instead of adding value and helping “build capacity” as mandated under a contract funded by the Asian Development Bank (for no meager sum, at that), took liberties in “adopting” global best practices.
Apparently, the massive “cut-and-paste” strategy was uncovered by the government with the help of a program that academicians use to determine the originality of thesis papers submitted by students. For instance, a policy brief for contract management drafted by this consultancy firm for the PPP Center was found out to be 82 percent “borrowed” from Internet-based sources, particularly the website of the European Investment Bank. And there was not even a footnote to credit the original source. But when confronted about this, “cut-and-paste” consultant trivialized the matter as an editing deficiency, pointing out that “it’s just a draft,” government sources said.
After the government was nearly being taken for a ride, people in the know shudder to think that this would have been the blueprint to be followed by various executing agencies for the PPP. The stance of many, however, has been to keep the mess hush-hush for now. But imagine the uncomfortable position President Aquino would have been subjected to (and the Philippines for that matter, now that it’s becoming a global darling) if the government had promulgated these spurious drafts only for someone to point out that this was a “second-rate, trying hard copycat,” to quote from that popular Filipino movie.
“It’s not just a quality issue, but an integrity issue,” one government source said.—Doris C. Dumlao
In the controversial award of 489 provincial bus lines to companies owned by the Hernandez family, the organized labor groups slamming Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas for investigating the award may by invoking a non-existent 1993 Supreme Court decision to bolster their case and press for the grant of the franchises to the most dominant bus operator in Luzon.
The high court decision on the Pantranco workers’ case was dated Oct. 17, 1996, and this did not mention the grant of the certificates of public convenience (CPCs) to the workers, which was a generic award. There was even a partial settlement when Pantranco North Express made a payment to the workers’ claim by giving P895,000 to them. In 2001, the workers also obtained a writ of execution over other Pantranco properties like machinery, equipment, tools, motor vehicles and buses to fully satisfy the high tribunal’s award.
So legally, there is no need to include CPCs in the award because, since 1993, both the DoTC and the LTFRB have consistently ruled that the lines had expired. Secondly, most of the 489 lines had since been distributed pro rata to North and Central Luzon bus operators by the LTFRB over the course of 20 years. To illustrate, Fariñas Transit, owned by the family of Ilocos Norte Representative Rudy Fariñas that has been operating for many years now, did not have 400 CPCs under its name.
There is even a new legal development. The May 2012 franchise award of the LTFRB named Pantranco North Express and the Pantranco Retrenched Employees Association (Panrea) as part of the group that made the sale to the Hernandez group. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, it revoked the certificates of registration of Pantranco on July 2, 2003. The certificate of registration of Panrea was revoked on Dec. 1, 2005. In short, they were legally nonexistent when they got into that sensitive transaction.
Of course, the 489 CPCs, were they valid, would have a market value of around P500 million.—Daxim L. Lucas
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