Two paid ads

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Friday, April 4, 2014


WHEN fellow columnist wrote about the one day “holiday” (a.k.a. lockdown) in the Southwestern University (SWU) campus a few days ago, my interest was piqued, after all, I spent some seven years of my life there. So I started asking around. But my questions were answered yesterday by full page ads the school published in Cebu papers.

First off, SWU has a new president in Noe G. Quiñanola. So my paisana from Tudela town, Elsa Suralta, a retired Department of Education (DepEd) schools division superintendent, has been replaced. Considering the school’s ownership row, I just hope it was not a forced replacement.

Quiñanola dismissed rumors that SWU is “on the verge of closure” and explained that the “holiday” last March 26 was a result of “legal issues that the university needed to resolve.”

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Actually, it was done to fend off threats of a forcible takeover by another faction of the Aznar clan claiming ownership of the school. This has been a protracted battle for majority control of SWU and has affected efforts to improve its status amidst the rise of other Cebu schools.

I find it sad, for example, that while the recent talk in social networking sites was the University of Cebu (UC) administration giving one car to its recent bar topnotcher and another car to its College of Law dean (which he didn’t accept), SWU was tackling ownership questions.

The other half of SWU Inc.’s full page ad talked about the status of its College of Medicine. That college used to be SWU’s flagship, producing board topnotchers and passers through the years until new and more aggressive medical schools overtook it.

I remember my high school batch mate Stephen Aznar, son of the late Matias “Bombi” B. Aznar III, telling me that the Matias H. Aznar II Memorial (MHAM) College of Medicine was already being run by a group, the MHAM College of Medicine Foundation Inc. It was, for me, like one’s head being decapitated.

It has now turned out that SWU Inc. is taking back the MHAM College of Medicine, a move that has the effect of ousting the MHAM-CM Foundation. The SWU Inc. paid ad said that it will directly run again the MHAM College of Medicine and has designated Dr. Peter Aznar as dean and tasked him to organize “the necessary faculty, administration, staff and other necessities” for its operation. Peter is Stephen’s brother.

I don’t know how many people will be displaced by the move and whether MHAM-CM Foundation is taking things sitting down or not.

The school was set up by the clan’s patriarch, Matias H. Aznar II, virtually from scratch and he successfully steered its growth to make it one of the leading campuses in Cebu and the country. It looks like the Aznar patriarch is now turning in his grave considering how the second and third generation Aznars couldn’t work together in operating the school.

***

What caught my attention to the paid ad was its head: “What GMR Said Under Oath in the Senate Hearing.” I initially thought GMR meant Godofredo M. Roperos but eventually realized it referred to GMR Airports of Bangalore, India and which partnered with the Filipino firm Megawide to top the bid for the P17.5 billion Mactan airport expansion project.

The full page ad was supposedly paid for by “Concerned Cebuanos for a Better Cebu” and had the clincher, “Can GMR be trusted?”

I have been suspicious of the motives of the people now demonizing Megawide-GMR obviously to serve the interest of the other firms whose bid the said consortium topped. That was why I expressed the hope that the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) would resolve the issue fairly and objectively.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 05, 2014.

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