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BIZ BUZZ: Big trouble at the SRA

/ 04:04 AM September 22, 2021

Administrative complaints continue to pile up against Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) head Hermenegildo Serafica and it seems that the bureau is now bursting at the seams with chaos.

Documents obtained by Biz Buzz showed that some senior employees at the SRA filed a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman against Serafica for his alleged illegal action in renewing job orders without authority from the agency’s Sugar Board, together with his executive assistant, Jennifer Marie Artates.

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Consequently, these employees also filed an appeal with the Civil Service Commission (CSC) questioning the authority of Serafica to discipline and remove officers at the SRA.

A source close to the matter told us that Serafica previously placed these employees on preventive suspension for refusing to process the salary of another SRA employee whose appointment was already disapproved by the CSC.

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All these have surfaced just after SRA board members Roland Beltran and Emilio Yulo filed a legal complaint with the CSC against Serafica for allegedly taking part in “the grand conspiracy” of falsifying public documents, usurpation of authority and grave misconduct.

The employees’ dissatisfaction with Serafica’s leadership continues to worsen as some employees also decided to send a letter to the recognized employees’ association of SRA, the Sugar Regulatory Administration Employees’ Association, questioning its conspicuous silence and inaction toward the injustice being suffered by its members.

The mayhem within the halls of SRA has been going on for months and is now affecting staff morale that a veteran employee—whom officials consider as one of the pillars of the agency—already decided to file for early retirement, citing the “many pressures” in the office.

Leadership at the SRA is crumbling. Will we hear from its top officials anytime soon?

—Karl R. Ocampo

‘Pisay’ in New Clark

The Philippine Science High School (PSHS) aka “Pisay,” the secondary school system for whiz kids, is opening a 4.6-hectare satellite campus in New Clark City, Tarlac. PSHS has an existing campus at the Clark Freeport Zone, but more space is needed to accommodate the increasing student and employee population.

The master plan for the campus has been approved by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), which will construct the new campus in a site called “Infinitum,” which is likewise envisioned to be a resource center for teachers and professionals.

“We hope that with the new PSHS campus, we will be able to give more opportunities for quality education to deserving Filipino students, especially in Central and Northern Luzon. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the valuable contribution of science and technology in our society. We will also be able to build our pool of researchers and professionals who would help us prevent other pandemics in the future,” BCDA president and chief executive officer Vince Dizon said.

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“It is also crucial, now more than ever, to invest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education to stop climate change and provide scientific and technological solutions to issues plaguing our society.”

The PSHS System is an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology. It contributes to nation building by helping the country attain a critical mass of professionals and leaders in the science and technology field.

Under the approved master plan, 80 percent of the total PSHS campus area will be open space. There will be facilities for traditional and alternative learning, as well as indoor and outdoor set-ups showcasing the latest technological innovations. The campus will feature a training center, technology hub, research center, innovation center, multipurpose academic building, administration building, a summer camp area and dormitories.

The procurement for the detailed architectural and engineering design for the training center is ongoing and is targeted for completion by 2022.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

European foray

Fast-food giant Jollibee Foods Corp. expects to spend 10 million euros (P590 million) to make inroads into Spain. This is a fifth of Jollibee’s 50-million euro investment program in Europe, where it aims to have 50 stores in five years.

Jollibee is opening on Sept. 23 its first restaurant in Spain, located on Calle Arsenal at Puerta del Sol, one of Madrid’s busiest thoroughfares.

It will have a dining capacity for 180 guests and will feature a store design that has been “reimagined” for European customers. Jollibee Madrid has a double-height dining hall with a full-size palm tree right at the center of the restaurant. It also features outdoor seating, takeaway collection areas, digital kiosks to facilitate transactions, and hand-washing stations.

Here in the Philippines, meanwhile, Jollibee Group has extended its 10-percent dining discount promo for vaccinated customers until Nov. 30 this year. The initiative forms part of the Ingat Angat’s Smart Bakuna Benefits program.

—Doris Dumlao Abadilla

Gaming boom

Internet demand is on the rise and it’s not just because of the near-endless consumption of movies and television shows online.

There is an emerging class of gamers and those who enjoy watching them play. In fact, Globe Telecom estimates that a staggering 40 million Filipinos consume gaming content while the pandemic rages.

In the same way Filipino athletes racked up an impressive collection of medals during the recent Tokyo Olympics, local Esports athletes are making their name in the international arena.

Companies like Globe appear to be pivoting in this direction as well. It has partnered with Mineski Philippines to support Liyab Esports, a team of professional Filipino Esports athletes.

Liyab, which translates to blaze, recently finished third in the Summer Season of the Wild Rift SEA Icon Series.

Liyab’s team for League of Legends, a popular online battle arena game, also secured a playoff spot in the Pacific Championship Series.

Esports has turned into a viable career for many individuals. At times, their gaming skills become as coveted as those learned in more traditional educational settings.

For example, another Globe partnership was with Acadarena, an avenue where students upgrade their gaming skills and network with each other. The company also offers a scholarship program for especially gifted gamers.

Other companies are pursing similar partnerships in what appears a vast and limitless space. It’s still early days.

—Miguel R. Camus INQ
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TAGS: Biz Buzz, Business, SRA
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