Tidbits

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Sunday, February 16, 2014


AMONG my nice-to-do’s is being on a “revalida” panel for graduate students. That’s when information sharing takes a fast lane, and the roundtable tidbits are raw and plenty.

That’s also when I get updates about practices and activities of industries and other organizations, some of which have gone low-profile after the initial phase of intense controversy.

Take, for ins­tance, (1) the lotto operations in VisMin. When Pacific Online Systems Corp. set up operations here in Cebu, the community howled. Leading the pack of protesters were the priests and nuns, Catholic schools and other religious groups.

Their message: Gambling is at the very least an occasion for sin and should, thus, be shunned.

The howling has waned since then. There are no more protests in the streets nor media.

But the buying continues, and from the lotto outlets we see everywhere, this member of the gaming industry is meeting its targets.

Expected to install at least 800 outlets in VisMin, Pacific Online has already installed 1,600. Unless the proposed outlet is within 50 meters from a school with elementary pupils, an applicant is most likely to be approved by the Philippine
Charity Sweepstakes Office.

Colon is the best location for lotto outlets, because of the foot traffic. But it’s also the most congested now. Wannabe entrepreneurs have to shell out a capitalization of at least P20,000 and get 5 percent of the revenues.

But they’ll need to stretch their patience. The waiting from submission of application form to approval takes about a year.

(2) Also mushrooming all over the Philippines are the so-called workers’ cooperatives.

Among their services is to provide manpower for companies not interested in regular hires.

Aside from employment opportunities for their members, cooperatives do not feel obliged to pay government taxes. Their reason: There is no employer-employee relationship because the coops have members, not employees.

The Social Security System (SSS) saw it differently in 2009 and so, found itself in a lawsuit that went up to the Supreme Court. Expect more push-pulls on this.

(3) Drugs are very accessible in Labangon. Both big-business owners and small-business entrepreneurs are aware that even 12-year-olds already use drugs in that barangay, despite the presence of policemen and barangay tanods.

Sometimes citizens have to look the other way when drug pushers and users enter. Some mothers reluctantly yield money after much badgering from their children-addicts. Are the law enforcers on peaceful co-existence mode?

(4) Because of the Janet Napoles scam and many politicians’ mishandling of their PDAF, the budgets for government agencies have greatly increased.

For perhaps the first time, these agencies now have concerns above concomitant responsibility of creating, implementing, monitoring and evaluating livelihood projects.

This arrangement will hopefully prevent hefty amounts of money from simply lining the pockets of congressmen and senators, and even their extended families (read: mistresses and second families).

Now that the agencies are finally getting more budget support, perhaps all that praise about an improved RP economy will finally trickle down to the greatest mass of our country’s population.

(lelani.echaves@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 17, 2014.

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