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ROUGH CUTS: Observations at the Airport cargo terminal

WE BELIEVE Davaoeno senator Christopher “Bong” Go could not have done it more correctly. That is, his having called for his fellow senators to support a Senate bill intended to reform the pension system now in place for the country’s military, police, and other uniformed personnel.

And what makes the bill even more beneficial and fair is that once passed into law, it will still retain all the benefits under the existing pension plan for those who are still in the service. The new scheme as proposed in the bill applies only to those who will be entering the uniformed service by the time the bill becomes a law. In the process, Senator Go assures the Filipinos, the proposed reformed pension system will assure the fiscal stability of the country even as it will not result to the exhaustion of the funds needed to pay the salaries of servicemen and the pension benefits of future retirees in the country’s uniformed service.

Not only that, according to the neophyte senator from Davao City, reforming the pension system of the men and women in the uniformed service will “assure the balance between government interest and the mandate to ensure the provision of adequate remuneration and benefits to them.”

Yes, it now appears that Senator Go is putting to heart the message of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017 when the Chief Executive expressed his concern on “the ballooning budget burden where the total cost of the pensions of retired soldiers and other members of the uniformed service will exceed the compensation of those in the active service.”

It is our take that the young solon has studied quite seriously the impact of the somewhat greedily thought of pension scheme which is now in effect. For how could the “greed factor” not come in the minds of those who conceptualized the present pension system when they knew fully well that their retirement age is much earlier than the rest of those in the government service – at 56 years old?

We are certain that Senator Go must have realized that this desire for the humongous amount of money that comes after retirement of those in the uniformed service could be the motivation of many to even retire early, like a year or two or even five before their mandatory retirement age comes.

After all, it is common knowledge that a good number of servicemen in the Police, Armed Forces, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the Coast Guard are easily picked by private corporations for their employment even at age 50 or over.

So, when they are able to get approval for early retirement, these servicemen get all the benefits that are allowable for immediate collection and relaxingly wait for their lumped sum and the monthly pension until retirement age comes.

     Meanwhile, they could already be starting in their new job devoid of the various risks accompanying the uniformed service of the country.

We think with certainty that it is this aspect of disparity between the present pension systems of the men in the uniformed service and those in other government agencies that the youthful Davaoeno lawmaker wants to address and at the same time create the opportunity to sustain a viable resource generation and utilization for the present administration.

Yes, clearly Senator Go is doing his homework. We hope our other Mindanaoan senators and congressmen are doing theirs as well.

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Indeed the present global pandemic has given truth to the saying that “In crisis comes the opportunity for others to make fortunes.”

Yes, when the onset of the Corona Virus Disease (CoViD) was imminent in the country and the government issued measures to be taken as ways to prevent or cushion mass infection of the virus, the first sector to get the idea of making huge money out of the health emergency was the face masks and other protective items manufacturers.

The said sector knew then that there will be massive demands for protective masks. So, those in the mask production group started producing various kinds of face mask and sold it at exorbitant prices. The same also got into the heads of the pharmaceutical groups manufacturing alcohol, sanitizers and other disinfectants.

We even suspect that these two groups of protective items manufacturers deliberately delayed their mass production in order to create an artificial shortage situation. Was it not that when alcohol, face masks and other items that were mentioned by health authorities to be potential protections against CoViD 19 infection that prices both in the wholesale and retail markets of the virus antidotes became sky high?

Was it not during that period of the pandemic when stocks of face masks and disinfectants vanished in the racks of pharmaceutical distributors and in supermarkets but were available in small retail outlets or were offered on-line at double if not triple the actual suggested retail price by the government?

     Of late we had this observation that the air transportation business which is one of those badly crippled by the restriction of travels due to the pandemic, is starting to get back on its feet. With still limited flights allowed and travel of people under strict regulations, passenger volume is far from regained. So, we have noted that airline companies are cashing in on the volume of cargoes they are transporting from one destination to another.

In Davao City where flights to Manila are scheduled on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays only, and to Cebu on Tuesdays only for all airline companies, we saw huge volumes of cargoes piling up at the corridors and ground of the airport cargo terminal.

Hardly the social distancing protocol is observed. What with so many people around moving cargoes for shipment, unloading them from trucks, porters helping the shipper and their representatives, the shippers themselves who are personally working on their loading documents, and employees of airline companies as well as those of forwarding firms.

It was in this situation at the cargo terminal that we have personally observed maneuverings that, without doubt, allow money to work for those shippers who want to have their transactions done fast and without much work on their part. And the porters are the best players for this money making venture. They are the ones moving the shippers’ documents to the offices or sections where the papers need to be submitted for processing including acquisition of quarantine permit for certain items for shipment like plants, fruits, processed and raw food products.

We noticed that other than social distancing not followed, the senior citizen’s privileges are also not observed. Then there were papers that came in much later than the others, and in huge numbers, but were processed ahead than those that were submitted earlier.

Worst there were only three employees doing the processing of applications for quarantine permits, and the computer printer allegedly conking out.

Then a somewhat overly exasperated shipper commented quite loudly that allowing porters to transact with the said government office is a long-practiced system, insinuating that it could not have been allowed without certain agreed upon consideration.

And this practice, according to the exasperated shipper, becomes even more massive with the reduced schedule of flights from the city to other areas of destination.

We are just wondering if the airline companies and the Bureau of Quarantine need some revisions in their system in cargo reception and handling, as well as document processing, at least at this time of the so-called “new normal” due to the pandemic.

 

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