Biz Buzz: RCBC, Philrem in focus
Many movers in the business sector want the Senate investigation into the $81-million money laundering scandal to focus on Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) and remittance firm Philrem. The logic behind this is that if RCBC and Philrem were doing their respective mandates (as a BSP-regulated bank and remittance center) to guard against money laundering, then the $81 million would not have even reached Philippines shores.
Clearly, the common thread of the opinions being expressed is that the banking system has to be tightened and cleansed of rogues if money laundering is to be stopped from its ingress and egress points—the banks.
Talks within the grapevine were even damning of RCBC and Philrem, alleging that the two may have also been involved in alleged ill-gotten wealth siphoned out of the Philippines, finding their way into numbered accounts in the Cayman islands, among others.
With the above, the Senate may be interested in the following “leads” being talked about in the business community: That the family of a candidate for national office allegedly has huge deposits in one of the bank’s caught up in this scandal and whose “outbound movement” to foreign shores were alleged to be managed by one of the foreign exchange brokers involved; that the ties that bind the politician with the the owner of the foreign exchange broker have been long and many (For one, the matriarch of the family that owns the foreign exchange broker is said to be very close to the politician’s wife), and that even before the foreign exchange firm became famous, the family owned a construction firm that allegedly cornered many of the politician’s projects, both private and public. Let’s see if the Senate smokes out anything from these leads. Daxim L Lucas
Miss Universe backs PAL
The Miss Universe winner is meant to empower people from all around the world but this year’s victor, Filipina Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, apparently took some time to lend her star power to flag carrier Philippine Airlines.
At a media event this week, Wurtzbach appeared in some of PAL’s new television commercials. Apparently, she was handpicked by PAL president Jaime Bautista himself, who thought it was a no-brainer decision.
“Of course. She’s Miss Universe,” Bautista quipped.
Wurtzbach, however, was not endorsing PAL in a traditional sense, like its other celebrity ambassadors Sarah Geronimo, Lea Salonga and Francisco “Bamboo” Mañalac. Bautista said she was lending her “support,” which required the approval of the organizers of the Miss Universe pageant.
The development comes as PAL remains firm in its strategy to become a top contender in the global commercial airline business by 2020. It’s a long road to becoming the carrier of choice in all markets where it operates and some universal star power can’t hurt its chances. Miguel R. Camus
Of OFWs and stage dads
National Treasurer Roberto “Bobby” Tan and First Metro Investments Corp. (FMIC) executive vice president Justin Ocampo can now add “stage dads” to their life roles. Their daughters will appear in the indie film written and produced by former FMIC president Roberto Juanchito “Jojo” Dispo about overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
The film “Sino Ang Bayani Ng Mga Bagong Bayani?” was conceptualized by Dispo to be a drama with mystery-thriller flick. The film and screenplay adaptation was made by acclaimed indie film-maker Sigfreid Barros-Sanchez. It is about a fictional prominent Magtanggol family rocked by a scandal as one scion—a young senator who is a strong OFW rights protection advocate—was tagged as a principal suspect in a string of overseas murders of abusive OFW employers. It is targeted for commercial run starting April 27.
Joonee Gamboa plays the Magtanggol patriarch who was also a former senator, Juan Magtanggol Sr. Tom Rodriguez plays the Magtanggol junior under trial. EJ Falcon plays the paraplegic son Anton, who had previously been favored by the patriarch to be his successor in politics but was unfortunately bound to the wheelchair after a car accident. Epi Quizon plays the cunning lawyer who is plotting to bring down the Magtanggol family in cahoots with a political rival of the Magtanggols played by Ricky Davao.
The film also features Yam Concepcion and Denise Laurel (as love interests of the Magtanggol brothers); Dina Bonnevie (as wife of Ricky Davao’s character), Jenine Desiderio (OFW victim) and William Martinez, a matinee idol in the 1980s.
“Heneral Luna” star John Arcilla, who was meant to be part of the original cast, begged off at the last minute due to his busy schedule.
Outside of this show biz cast, watch for National Treasurer Tan’s 19-year-old daughter Isabella—currently a student at UP Diliman—who will have a role in this film. Ocampo’s 22-year-old daughter Trish—a gifted singer and stage actress—will also appear in the film. Trish has appeared in musicals such as “Kabesang Tales” and “Sister Faustina.”
Apart from putting into the spotlight OFW issues, Dispo aims to use proceeds from this film to create a fund for OFWs. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
A question of when
Would parents be comfortable sending their children to a school that sits on top of a deep ravine and is located near the Marikina fault line at that? What would happen to the children in the event of a strong earthquake?
Or what if the school is ordered closed by a court in the future for having been built in violation of zoning regulations? Wouldn’t the same parents blame themselves if their children are displaced and their education derailed?
These scenarios could happen with the insistence of the owners of Multiple Intelligence International School Inc. (MIIS) to build a school at a ridge on a property along Katipunan Ave. in Quezon City—something which the Blue Ridge Subdivision is opposing in court.
Blue Ridge insists the planned construction is illegal because the MIIS property is within a Special Urban Development Zone (SUDZ) established in 2003 under Quezon City Ordinance No. SP-2200.
That ordinance bars the establishment of additional schools in an area already groaning under the weight of human and vehicular traffic congestion with the presence of commercial establishments and three large schools, namely Ateneo, Miriam College and the University of the Philippines (UP).
For Blue Ridge, the ground cited by the court—that the SUDZ was not yet “enforceable” pending ratification by HLRUB—is “flimsy.” Just the same, Blue Ridge has filed a motion for reconsideration and is expected to fight tooth and nail up to the Supreme Court.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether Quezon City authorities will grant MIIS the required building permit before all the legal issues have been sorted out.
For many in Blue Ridge, this is not just a legal battle but one that carries with it safety ramifications for future students of MIIS if the latter insists on building a school on a ridge.
If the MIIS school is built, would MIIS and the QC government be responsible if, heaven forbid, a strong earthquake strikes the area and brings down the school built on a precarious perch? Daxim L. Lucas
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