On stock exchanges and beauty pageants
What do stock exchanges and beauty pageants have in common?
Not much, except that in this country, the local stock exchange and one particular beauty pageant are headed by one and the same person.
But before we get into this, let us first recall one particular incident that has brought the country more shame, as if we have not had an overdose of it.
When businessman Amado Cruz attained a certain degree or popularity or notoriety after some contestants cried sexual harassment committed to them on several occasions in connection with the staging of this year’s Miss Earth pageant, many netizens, including this writer, searched online for his background and picture.
Indeed there were a few pictures of him, but nothing else. How could he afford to sponsor a pageant like Miss Earth and what business was he into?
Informed sources however revealed that Cruz is chairman of the construction firm Offshore Construction and Development Co. (OCDC) which won two contracts with the Intramuros Administration of the Department of Tourism in 1998, during the presidency of Joseph Estrada.
The court found out that he and Dominador Ferrer Jr., then head of IA, violated most rules on government projects in the book, such as constructing structures without building permits, etc. As a result of this, Ferrer was named respondent in a graft case with the Office of the Ombudsman.
In June, 2018, the Sandiganbayan ruled that Ferrer was guilty of graft for allowing Cruz to construct buildings inside the Walled City without a building permit and clearances, and sentenced him to a prison term of from eight to 10 years. Documents and letters from Cruz became strong and damning evidence in this case, according to newspaper reports.
Those in the know about beauty pageants say that these type of characters abound in beauty contests like predators looking for prey in the savannah, some of them promising the crown in exchange for sexual favors, as Miss Earth Canada and Miss Earth England claim Cruz did.
Those in the know about government contracts and bidding processes will tell you, too, that big money, expensive gifts and trips local or abroad, and even pretty girls for sex are items discussed by contractors and government officials authorized to give out contracts.
That’s the way it is in beauty pageants and big-ticket projects.
According to sources, Cruz, who styles himself as a friend to top politicians and officials both in the public and private sectors, was too important a sponsor to merit a strong rebuke from Carousel Productions, led by executive vice president Lorraine Schuck. The most he received was a slap on the wrist from Schuck, while the complaining beauties got a dressing down for turning to social media to air their grievances.
Schuck’s kid-glove treatment of Cruz must have been part of company policy on how to deal with sponsors. The question being asked by many is, whether or not Carousel Productions’ chairman and founder, Ramon Monzon, influences policy in the company?
Monzon has been quiet on this issue for quite a long time now. Incidentally, he is also president and chief executive officer of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).
It is reasonable to assume that character, management style and probity are qualities that one must have, whether one is managing a beauty pageant or the country’s only stock market.
The PSE has not been spared from criticism. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez himself has questioned why after several years, the bourse has not yet complied with the 20 percent ownership requirement of the law for stock brokers.
There is also this matter about the local bourse being overtaken by the Landbank in the bid to buy the Philippine Dealing System Inc.
Does Monzon’s leadership style have anything to do with these failures? We of course would like to know what he has to say about all these.
Not so hidden agenda
Senate President Vicente Sotto III has expressed his support to the new Manila Yacht Club Commodore Robert “Bobby” Joseph’s Manila Bay cleanup advocacy.
The advocacy was announced by Joseph during his official turnover as commodore at the “Opening Day Ceremonies and Sail Pass for 2018-2019” with Sotto as the guest of honor.
According to Joseph, the country has the best environmental laws in the world, which just need to be implement properly. Joseph said he will be meeting with the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to discuss how to implement the law all the way to the barangay level and teach them about environmental protection.
He added that Manila Bay can still be saved and it’s about time the Manila Yacht Club focuses on this gargantuan problem that affects the e-commerce and tourism of the country.
Sotto also commended the Manila Yacht Club for placing the Philippines on the global yachting map, saying that its members are among the most esteemed and respected in their own fields.
Shown in photo are Joseph (2nd from right) and (from left) Sotto, past commodore Grepo ‘Butch’ Belgica, Rear Commodore Ildefonso Tronqued and past commodore Francisco Garcia witnessing the ‘Sail Pass’ from MYC Fleet saluting the new commodore.