FACES OF THE NEWS: Aug. 4, 2019
Gilbert Santa Maria
Filipino expat Gilbert Santa Maria was shocked when he got a call to return to the Philippines and run Asia’s oldest airline as its president and chief operating officer (COO).
But the 53-year-old Santa Maria, who has led some of the world’s biggest companies, readily took on the challenge from Philippine Airlines chair Lucio Tan, who handpicked him for the role.
“The flag carrier matters. That’s why I took the job,” said the University of the Philippines- and Yale University-educated Santa Maria.
He has no airline background, but Santa Maria has 15 years of experience in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector.
Until early 2018, he was COO of the Washington-based BPO company Ibex Global and oversaw its 18,000 employees around the world.
He has also worked with eTelecare, Pepsi Cola PH and Unilever, among other companies.
Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) general manager Royina Garma, former police chief of Cebu City, was less than two weeks into her job when President Rodrigo Duterte dropped a bombshell — all PCSO gaming operations must cease immediately.
The blanket ban was prompted by allegations of massive corruption in the agency, and Garma, whose predecessor was fired over alleged corruption issues, swiftly welcomed any investigation of the agency.
But it soon emerged that the President’s seemingly rash decision had come just two hours after a private meeting with Garma, who implored him to help her resolve irregularities in the PCSO.
But she provided no further details.
“The question of whether or not there is corruption here, I will leave to investigators,” Garma said.
The lotto bettor
Regular bettors of the country’s popular game of chance had a rollercoaster ride last weekend when President Duterte announced a blanket ban on all gaming operations of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO)—including lotto.
Over the next four days, some 30,000 gaming outlets were shut down nationwide, leaving players, whose bets are a crucial source of revenue for the state-run charity, out in the cold.
But by Tuesday night, the President rescinded part of his order, saying that lotto outlets could again be opened.
The scores of bettors who missed out on a chance to try their luck weren’t the only ones crippled by the ban.
More than 120,000 people connected to lotto outlets were left jobless, while the PCSO lost about P250 million in revenue that could have gone to its charity operations.
Sen. Richard Gordon, a member of the Senate majority, found himself the latest target of President Rodrigo Duterte’s vitriol after he questioned the Chief Executive’s penchant for appointing retired military officers to prominent government posts.
This was dangerous, Gordon warned, as there should be civilian supremacy.
He added that the President, being from the province, did not know a lot of people and had a shallow bench from which to pick appointees.
The President countered that the retired officers were already civilians.
He also described the senator’s paunch as a depository of the latter’s “melted brain.”
Gordon seems to have taken the slurs in stride. He was happy that the President was concerned about his health, the senator said, just as he was concerned about Mr. Duterte’s health, he said.
Few individuals or even companies are in a position to make a lasting and significant change that will benefit millions for generations to come. But that is precisely what Ramon Ang, president of San Miguel Corp.(SMC), is set to do with the planned New Manila International Airport in Bulacan province. SMC hopes to launch the groundbreaking event in the fourth quarter of 2019 for the project that hopes to solve a recurring problem: congestion in Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia). The new airport in Bulakan, Bulacan, should solve that with its at least four runways and passenger capacity of over 100 million a year, thrice the design capacity of Naia. The airport, which opens in four to six years, will cost some P735 billion, easily the single most expensive infrastructure project so far.
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