BIZ BUZZ: PLDT suppliers still fuming | Inquirer Business

BIZ BUZZ: PLDT suppliers still fuming

/ 02:08 AM January 25, 2023

It’s been over a month since PLDT Inc., led by Manuel V. Pangilinan, revealed a P48-billion spending overrun that only came to light after four years.

The issue has been quieting down, much to the relief of investors who bought the company’s stocks at the lows and even some of its long-term holders, now that the share price has fully recovered from the violent 19-percent plunge on Dec. 19.

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This is partly thanks to a closed-door briefing the telco giant made to assure fund managers, brokers and investment analysts in the wake of the stunning budget revelations.

But underneath this calm, PLDT’s many suppliers are fuming.

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Those that have approached Biz Buzz said they remain unpaid ever since PLDT’s internal investigation began last October.

This might be because PLDT has yet to conclude the internal probe but some suppliers found it in bad taste that a few company officials were bragging about the Pangilinan Group’s lavish budget for the upcoming 2023 Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup.

While a separate project, they were particularly irked about the chatter the group was wooing an A-list American musician of Filipino descent who is known to charge at least $5 million for high-profile events. This celebrity has a busy schedule so it might be shooting for the moon, or a bit further.

In any case, the country’s hosting of the Fiba World Cup is a rare honor and no expense must be spared. These suppliers were just hoping they, too, could be given attention as bills remain due after many months.

—MIGUEL R. CAMUS

House in disarray

The house of Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) is in disarray over the shift in the agency’s management.

Retired PHilMech officials and employees, in an open letter obtained by reporters, expressed their concern over the “drastic overhaul” of the leadership structure as nine of the 11 divisions are mostly led by junior staff, putting the agency in a “precarious position.”

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And all of this transpired after PHilMech head Dionisio Alvindia made conflicting pronouncements last year.

How did the leadership clash between Alvindia and key officials all start, you ask?

Let’s take a walk down memory lane: Sometime in September 2022, Alvindia said they had uncovered irregularities in the purchase of farm vehicles for distribution to the intended beneficiaries.

Later on, Alvindia retracted his claims and stressed no corruption was committed in the procurement of 1,346 four-wheel tractors for a total cost of P1.75 billion, or about P1.3 million per vehicle.

According to the former PHilMech employees, four officials remain under preventive suspension while five others were relieved from their posts and put on floating status since then.

“The signatories vouched for the displaced officials and highlighted their exemplary and meritorious work known not only in the agency but outside as well—in the research community, local and abroad, and the greater agro-industrial sector of the country,” they said.

Ex-PHilMech employees also appealed for objective action on the suspension and displacement of the agency’s key officials.

“This is to ensure the continued viability and integrity of the agency to fulfill its strategic role in the country’s agricultural productivity and agri-based industries’ development,” they added.

It seems PHilMech will need to resolve the disputes among their ranks. After all, they are tasked with distributing farm machinery and equipment to eligible farmers cooperatives and associations for free under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund’s mechanization program.

— Jordeene B. Lagare

ABS-CBN’s second act?

ABS-CBN Corp. is taking steady steps toward realizing a dream of becoming an international content provider.

More recently, it signed a partnership with an international music company and deals to export popular television shows.

The worldwide publishing agreement with Warner Chappell Music PH is a major step since it grants rights to the entire song catalog of ABS-CBN Music. This also opens up new markets for current and future generations of Filipinos musicians.

At the same time, ABS-CBN is bringing Mars Ravelo’s Darna to Indonesia and Viral Scandal to the Sub-Saharan African market.

It was years ago when company CEO Carlo Katigbak described their vision for a more international ABS-CBN with a Filipino core. Time will tell if the pivot turns out to be a winning strategy for the storied media giant.

—Miguel R. Camus
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