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Rough Cuts | The P650-million package

Our friend former National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) administrative official Earle Ferrer texted us last Monday morning.

His text message was in a form of a news release advising us that the Philippine Army (PA) reservists under the 2202nd Ready Reserve Infantry Brigade (2202nd RRIBde) has held a planning workshop. The intention of the activity was to map out programs, projects and activities in order to strengthen the reservists movement.

Thanks to Earle whose text made us know that the reservists brigade’s commander is no less than third district congressman Col. Isidro T. Ungab.

Earle in his text message said the congressman Philippine Army Reserve Colonel stressed in his speech during the workshop the role of the reservists in the community which is not only as force multipliers but also as responders during times of emergencies.

Ungab, added Ferrer, urged those who attended the workshop to support President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Whole-of-Nation Approach” in achieving an inclusive and sustainable peace in the entire country.

Well, it’s more than good news that the reservists have for its commander the chair of the most powerful committee in Congress, the House Appropriations Committee.

As chair of the body that determines the allocation of funds to the national government’s development projects, it is likely that programs and projects designed to enhance the capabilities of the reservists can be given funds.

We hope that the workshop done only recently had already come up with projects that its commanding officer may not be hesitant to include in the allocation of funds by Congress.

Now we are starting to think that our friend Earle is doing PR work for the congressman. If that is the case, then our friend is back to his old self – a PR practitioner.

Of course we have no reason to be surprised. Before NGCP, Earle was with the National Power Corporation (Napocor) that was under the hands of Guido Delgado during the Presidency of Fidel V. Ramos.

Sid Ungab who was a former executive of the defunct Mindanao Development Bank like Guido, may have known Earle as much as Delgado knows. Hence, there could already be some deeply rooted trust in our friend by the congressman reserve colonel.

Like a soldier, a PR guy also never dies. He only fades away. But there is always that tendency that he gets tapped again by those who are convinced of his effectiveness and credibility. And Earle belongs to that rare breed of corporate PR guys.


So the national government has allocated a P650 million in social package for the drivers and public transportation operators who will be affected by the implementation of the nation-wide transport modernization program in Davao City?

And as per Mayor Sara Duterte the package is now kept by the city government. So, we assume that this has already been released and is just waiting for its utilization once the public transportation modernization program is started by the local government.

The city is modernizing its public transport system by adopting the High Priority Bus System (HPBS) that it hopes to start very soon.

Under the HPBS the current kings of the road, the public utility jeeps (PUJs), will be slowly phased out and replaced with modern and big capacity buses that will serve the various routes in the city. Thus, the implementation of the program would mean the displacement of hundreds of jeep drivers and the downfall of several transport operators, especially the small ones who do not have the resources to shift to the modern buses, and those who would not want to go into partnership or cooperative endeavor.

To address the potential problem that can evolve from the displacement of drivers and disruption of the business of transport operators, those affected can avail of alternative livelihood assistance, skills trainings, and scholarships for the drivers and operators’ children.

These are novel ideas aimed at easing the lives of those who will be impacted by an equally noble project of the government.

But as the saying goes, “The taste of the pudding is in the eating.” So we will only know how effective the P650-million package on assuaging the insecurity of those who will soon be out of their regular work and will still be testing the waters of new livelihood ventures. So, “Let us to see,” (Tan-awon nato).

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