Biz buzz: Freebie-minded Cabinet official | Inquirer Business

Biz buzz: Freebie-minded Cabinet official

/ 12:40 AM November 02, 2016

The owner and officials of this large real estate firm couldn’t believe it.

One Duterte Cabinet official was recently at the shopping mall of this company and was being assisted by its officials, as is customary whenever a VIP guest is on the premises. And as part of their polite small talk, the mall people gave the Cabinet official the usual line: “Please let us know if there’s anything we can do for you.”


Well, it was soon apparent that there was something they could do for this Cabinet official and they were soon regretting their polite pro forma words. That’s because this Cabinet official asked an assistant the very next day to get in touch with the executives of the mall and ask them for 150 tickets—that’s right, 150—for a musical that was being staged in the theater owned by the firm.

Why? Well, the Cabinet official wanted other employees of the department to watch the musical, too.


But here’s the thing: This real estate company has firm guidelines when it comes to dealing with government officials, so the request was—gasp—turned down.

Instead of an outright rejection, however, the real estate firm sent this Cabinet official VIP tickets for the Cabinet official to watch the popular musical. And so the Cabinet official watched the musical. But it didn’t end there.

After the show, the Cabinet official went window-shopping at the mall and promptly found some interesting items. Thus, this official asked staffers to call the mall executives to inform them that the official wanted two pairs of designer shoes seen in the shops right that minute.

But the mall official reasoned that such a request could not immediately be granted. Instead, the stunned mall executive suggested that the shoes be sent to the Cabinet official’s office the next day.

The mall executive also rejected a suggestion by the Cabinet official’s staffer saying that the official should just be given a complimentary P50,000 spending spree, with purchases over this amount to be settled by the official.

Anyway, the shoes were promptly sent to the Cabinet official’s office the following day, with one mall executive even advancing the money for the purchase.

And you think that’s the end of the story? Nope. The shoes were sent back—to the consternation of everyone at the mall and real estate firm—because the Cabinet official said they didn’t fit correctly.


Of course, the matter has reached the tycoon who owns the mall and real estate firm who could only shake his head in disgust. Too bad they have to work with this Cabinet official’s department and agencies as part of their business operations. —Daxim L. Lucas

Reason for quitting?

A significant number of would-be appointees of the Duterte administration remained pending and the official line was that they were being carefully vetted by the GCG or the Governance Commission for Government-Owned or -Controlled Corporations.

But now, its new chair, Jaime Ma. Flores II—after a mere three months on the job—has resigned, leaving many people perplexed as to his reason for doing so and possibly slowing down further the process of filling thousands of presidential appointee slots for the top posts and directorships at hundreds of GOCCs.

Malacañang has confirmed his departure, but has not given an official reason. And apparently, neither did he when he bid his colleagues at the agency goodbye last week, hinting only that he tried his best “to insulate GCG from partisan politics.” But even that doesn’t reveal much.

But according to some of his friends, Flores’ departure might have something to do with President Duterte’s foreign policy, specifically the Chief Executive’s strident anti-US rhetoric.

You see, Flores was educated in the US (having graduated from the Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York, after his early education at the Ateneo de Manila University, according to the public portions of the Facebook profile).

At the same time, their family business of importing firetrucks Ö well, those comes from the US, too.

One of his friends said that Flores had cited these factors and said that “there is no need to be an  enemy of the US.” And so he left.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on Malacañang’s next choice to chair the GCG, given that there still remain many unfilled GOCC posts, including several that are important government financial institutions. Abangan! —Daxim L. Lucas

PAL’s pivot

It’s not just the Philippine government making a pivot to China. Flag carrier Philippine Airlines is seeing more than a billion reasons to expand in the world’s second-biggest economy.

Given that a long-standing “travel advisory” imposed on the Philippines was lifted due to warming relations between Beijing and Manila, it appears PAL is also warming to the idea of luring more Chinese visitors. That also means largely increasing marketing efforts there. We hear PAL was readying China-specific ad materials to entice more Chinese to come visit the Philippines.

This may or may not have been related to recent developments, but we heard that PAL also launched a dedicated call center in China catering to potential customers in the mainland. The full range of PAL services will be offered, from booking, seat selections all the way to refunds.

Of course, airport facilities, especially Manila’s busy air gateway, would need to be upgraded to accommodate the influx of visitors. It’s either that or officials here might have to learn to say “sorry” in Mandarin millions of times over. —Miguel R. Camus

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