Manuel V. Pangilinan
By the OpinYon Research Team
Are members of President Benigno S. Aquino’s family of officials serving the interests of the country? Some in the President’s cabinet are loyal to the country. Some are likely serving business interests, like Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert Ferreros del Rosario and Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras.
In the case of Almendras, his alliance with Senator Sergio Osmeña on the energy crisis that the country is facing is an open secret. Almendras, former DOE head until his transfer to his current post as cabinet secretary, is known to be the inside guy of the Aboitiz business group, while Sen. Osmeña is married to a Lopez sibling. Both Aboitiz and the Lopezes are big players in the power sector.
Almendras and Osmeña, despite their pro-people posturings, fail to fool the people of their true color. But at least, they have not led us to an almost shooting war with a superpower.
In the case of del Rosario, OpinYon brings you back to 2012, when we almost went to war against China. Here, the OpinYon research team picks up a “secret” leak sent to us.
The Scarborough Incident
Last April 2012, tensions arose around Scarborough Shoal when Philippine Navy and Coast Guard vessels had a stand-off with Chinese Marine Surveillance vessels.
Although the situation eventually normalized after a couple of months, the fiery exchange of rhetoric between the two countries continue. Leading the charge on the side of the Philippines is none other than its Foreign Affairs head, Secretary Albert del Rosario.
While Sec. del Rosario reaped praises for his patriotic stance against a rising superpower, information about his true motives, however, started leaking out.
What is Sec. del Rosario’s true agenda? Is he truly a patriot?
In a meeting in Malacañang sometime in early May 2012, Secretary del Rosario was asked by President Aquino, who authorized the trip of Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) to China to talk to Chinese officials?
Secretary del Rosario owned up to the responsibility when he said that he “sort of encouraged Pangilinan to go and open another channel to China through the private sector since the political channel has failed.”
However, instead of talking to Chinese officials to defuse the situation in Scarborough Shoal, MVP talked to the China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) officials to pursue personal business interests. His report to the President is detailed in the following Aide Memoire:
Manny V. Pangilinan is the chairman of Philex Mining, which owns 65 percent of Philex Petroleum, which in turn owns 60.49 percent of Forum Energy.
Forum Energy owns 70 percent of the Service Contract 72, a seven-year exploration contract in the Reed Bank awarded by the Philippine government in 2010. By August 2013, it is committed to dig two wells in Sampaguita under its work program with the government.
Based on the estimate of Forum Energy PLC in 2011, the Sampaguita field contains 2.6 trillion cubic feet of contingent in place gas resource and 5.5 TCF of prospective in place gas resource.
The Del-Rosario-MVP Connection
Sec. Albert del Rosario has been involved in companies run by MVP, being director of the Philippine First Pacific Co. (Hong Kong), PT Indofood Sukses Makmur Tbk, the largest food company in Indonesia; Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Metro Pacific Investments Corp., Philex Mining Corp., Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corp., Manila North Tollways Corp. and ABC Development Corp.
Sec. del Rosario has headed the development of Pacific Plaza Towers, Metro Pacific Corp.’s signature project. He is said to have introduced Pangilinan to the Salim family of Indonesia, which is behind First Pacific.
MVP as chairman and chief executive officer of Philex Mining Corp, owns 74.79 percent of Philippines Petroleum Corp. Philex Petroleum owns 64.45 percent of Forum Energy Plc. (FEP), an oil and gas exploration company incorporated in the United Kingdom with focus on the Philippines.
Forum Energy has secured a two-year extension from the original deadline of August 2013 for its work program under Service Contract 72 in light of the territorial dispute between Philippines and China.
In December 2012, DOE announced that it has deferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs the decision to grant permits concerning the exploration and drilling activities at the highly contested Recto (Reed) Bank because the area was part of the disputed waters being claimed by China.
In short, the go signal for the drilling activities of MVP’s Forum Energy lies in the hands of his best friend, Secretary Albert del Rosario.
(SOURCE: http://business.inquirer.net/104849/oil-drilling-group-gets-2-year-extension; http://www.interaksyon.com/business/50708/doe-serves-notice-that-oil-gas-projects-in-contested-territories-would-face-delays)
Why is MVP, through Sec. del Rosario, delaying the exploration drilling of Service Contract 72?
Sec. del Rosario is using the tension in Scarborough Shoal as a pretext to suspend the exploration drilling of SC 72. However, in light of the fact that the situation in Scarborough has normalized, plus the fact that MVP’s Forum Energy is in partnership with CNOOC of China, then obviously this is not the true reason for the delay.
What now is the real reason for the delay?
Findings of US Energy Information Administration
Several countries have overlapping territorial claims to portions of the South China Sea, which stretches from Singapore in the southwest to Taiwan in the northeast. The Spratly Islands and Paracel Islands are two of the most contested areas (see dark blue islands on map above). However, unlike other parts of the South China Sea, these areas have not been assessed to hold large (conventional) resources of oil and natural gas. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, ownership of habitable islands can extend the exclusive access of a country to surrounding energy resources.
EIA’s analysis shows that most fields containing discovered oil and natural gas are clustered in uncontested parts of the South China Sea, close to shorelines of the coastal countries, and not near the contested islands. Industry sources suggest almost no oil and less than 100 billion cubic feet of natural gas in proved and probable reserves exist in fields near the Spratly Islands. The Paracel Island territory has even less natural gas and no oil.
(SOURCE: US Energy Information Administration, http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=10651)
In addition to proved and probable reserves, the South China Sea may have additional hydrocarbons in underexplored areas. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimated in 2012 that about 12 billion barrels of oil and 160 trillion cubic feet of natural gas might exist as undiscovered resources in the South China Sea, excluding the Gulf of Thailand and other adjacent areas. About one fifth of these resources may be found in contested areas, particularly in the Reed Bank at the northeast end of the Spratly Islands, which is claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. These additional resources are not considered commercial reserves at this time; extracting them may not be economically feasible.
(SOURCE: US Energy Information Administration, http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=10651)
Based on the above, it is clear that it is in the interest of business partners, MVP and Sec. del Rosario, to delay the drilling in SC72 (Reed Bank) because Forum Energy had bloated the gas and oil reserve estimates of SC72 (2.6 trillion cubic feet of contingent in place gas resource and 5.5 trillion cubic feet of prospective in place gas resource) and, therefore, had grossly overvalued their stocks.
Once the drilling starts, the true value of the reserves in SC72 would be known and MVP’s partners/stockholders at Forum Energy would start bailing out. MVP stands to lose billions.
This explains the antagonistic stance of Sec. del Rosario (through DFA) towards China. He just needs a continuing pretext to delay the drilling until MVP finds an unwitting buyer of their stake and leave their other partners/stockholders holding the empty bag.
Sec. Albert del Rosario is no patriot after all.
[By Al Labita]
BASED on Opinyon’s perceptions and social media surveys, the developing pattern of calls for change tilts towards those with a proven track record of integrity and competence outside the abominable dog-eat-dog world of politics.
Something’s Got to Give
At the rate the spate of crisis is laying siege on the three-year-old Aquino presidency, the betting is on whether it would last its six-year mandate. Unable to cope with the crushing pressures spawned by a harsh political climate, Pnoy appears to have lost his sense of control of a country teetering on the brink of becoming a failed state. As defined by Wikipedia, a failed state ensues when a central government becomes so weak or ineffective in stemming the rising tide of widespread corruption and a slumping economy. Another dimension of a failed state is erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions and inability to provide public services. Nowhere is such more exemplified than in Noam Chomsky’s book titled Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy.
That, in a nutshell, seems foreboding and may be ascribed to the prevailing state of the nation. The emerging scenarios are dreadful – either Pnoy resigns or forced out office. Banking on self-serving popularity rating only whetted the pent-up public clamor for a drastic change in government, given the onslaught of street protests. Neither Pnoy’s propensity to play the blame game has helped him abate his sinking fate nor did it curb the likelihood of a mob rule in a country polarized by clashing vested interests. From his jailed predecessor Gloria Arroyo, Pnoy has now turned to media as his latest favorite whipping boy in heaping blame for his misfortunes in public office. Addressing mid this week foreign journalists, he warned them against falling prey into a conspiracy trap meant to link him to the pork scam.
“Our media and our people are far too good—far too wise—to be grossly and brazenly led to the wrong issue, Pnoy said. “Plunderers should be taken to account,” he added, a stance only eliciting mixed views from hard-nosed newsmen.
Though Aquino enjoys the backing of the men in uniform, past bitter lessons showed how they hastily abandoned and dumped the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his predecessors Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo when their hold on power was no longer tenable in the face of mounting public outcry over corruption scandals.
Whether such tragic ending would eventually befall on Aquino remains to be seen as the country’s political complexion remains highly fluid.
While anything can happen, one thing is sure – Pnoy can’t keep his guards down.
Undoubtedly, the highly divisive pork barrel scam has sapped Pnoy’s political will to govern and only exacerbated the people’s loss of trust in him. This early, egging on the 53-year-old bachelor president to quit is like asking for the moon as most lawmakers in both houses of Congress had been exposed as Aquino’s paid hacks through the pork barrel system, the reason why calls for impeachment against him landed on deaf ears. Contrary to his self-projected image as an “incorruptible” president, Pnoy has already gained notoriety for resorting to money politics as evidenced by how he plotted the ouster of then chief justice Renato Corona. So far, there’s no palpable sign as yet on who the people would prefer to succeed Pnoy should current tensions lead to an abrupt end to his six-year reign in power. By operation of law, Vice president Jejomar Binay is next in line, but not necessarily as he has to reckon with the distortions and aberrations of the country’s political history. If we recall, the late senator Arturo Tolentino as the “duly-elected” vice president was supposed to succeed Marcos following the fraud-marred snap polls.
Quirks in Politics
But due to unknown quirks in politics, an unexpected civilian-backed 1986 military revolt intervened, catapulting then plain housewife Corazon Aquino to power notwithstanding her hesitance and inexperience. As in the case of the late democracy icon, an unlikely figure may yet emerge if the current pressure-packed political scene persists.
Who Could She/He Be?
Scanning the horizons, the people are understandably sick and tired of recycling the scalawags in politics – the old and new trapos. Topping the list are the two highly respected captains of the industry – Manuel V. Pangilinan and Ramon S. Ang, both at the helm of publicly listed consumer-oriented conglomerates. Like Pangilinan, Ang faced challenges in turning around San Miguel Corp. (SMC) from an inward-looking company to one of today’s formidable Asian corporate behemoths.
From traditional lines of business anchored on beer, packaging and food, SMC has diversified to cost-intensive strategic industries in what analysts described as a “calculated risk” in a highly competitive environment. Adding power, mining, telecoms, oil, aviation and other related ventures to SMC’s investment portfolio had paid off in that these broadened the conglomerate’s market base, both locally and internationally. Thanks to Ang’s bold forays, SMC has been raking in record-breaking revenues which currently translate to about 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, a corporate feat indeed for a homegrown conglomerate. Under Ang’s stewardship, SMC has set its sight on achieving what had long remained on its drawing board – whopping revenues of U$50 billion by 2018 as it plans to acquire new businesses and expand existing ones. By and large, the target is nearly three times what SMC made in 2011, when it ended the year with US$17.5 billion in turnover. Known for his management prowess, Ang initially pegged a US$20 billion revenue target for 2015 but revised it upward in that by end of 2012, the conglomerate had already achieved its goal.
Singapore and Thailand
“Before, when we set a target of US$10 billion, people said, ‘That’s unbelievable!’ But we were able to achieve that. It happened. So that’s why we increased our target. From US$20 billion, we are hoping to reach US $50 billion revenue in the next 5 years,” Ang told reporters.
An engineer by training, he led SMC last year in acquiring management control of the financially ailing Philippine Airlines (PAL) from the group of taipan Lucio Tan. From then on, the nation’s flag carrier underwent rapid changes, including a refleeting program estimated to cost SMC over US$1 billion in capital expenditure to sharpen its competitiveness in the global airline industry. Part of the deal includes PAL subsidiary Air Philippines, a budget airline. Critics may quickly hint of a possible conflict of interest should the tycoons take over the reins of power, an irritant that can be overcome in due time in a democratic setting. Though largely untested, technocracy, as evidenced by the country’s rapid corporate growth, may yet be the key to solving the nation’s decades-old problems of poverty, inequality and dispossession.
Singapore is a case in point. Most of its current crop of leaders — from the prime minister to cabinet members – was plucked out from the corporate sector and became popularly elected. With the stringent values of fiscal, ethics and management disciplines learned from their previous profit-driven businesses, they managed to transform the island city-state from what was once a “basket case” in the early ‘50s to a prosperous nation today with one of highest per capita incomes in Asia. Neighboring Thailand is another example, whose prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, comes from a family of corporate elites, the key drivers of the country’s rapid economic growth. Previously, her brother Thaksin, a tycoon, also served as prime minister.
In the Philippines, however, any sudden paradigm shift in a volatile and highly charged political atmosphere can be tumultuous, if not bloody.
- Editorial : Not So Perfect Alibi? (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- SC asked to stop PNoy’s dialogue on DAP (manilastandardtoday.com)
- Philippine Airlines Close To Getting a Partner (airlinenewsphilippines.wordpress.com)
- Ernesto Domingo (bigstory.ap.org)
- Ping bares PNoy govt’s ‘ugly side’ (manilastandardtoday.com)
- Standing on its own merits (benchpress86.wordpress.com)
- Billionaire Tan Considers Philippine Air Exit After Two Decades (bloomberg.com)
- Amid corruption worry, Aquino to reform govt fund (bigstory.ap.org)
- PAL flies to London (rappler.com)
THE race is on for the next Philippine President.
This early, eyed as potential candidates come 2016 are: Vice President Jejomar Binay (United Nationalist Alliance), Interior and Local Government Sec. Mar Roxas (Liberal Party), Sen. Bong Revilla (Lakas-CMD), Sen. Grace Poe (Independent), Sen. Francis Escudero (Independent) Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto (Liberal Party) and businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan.
Of these seven potentials, six have some sort of political lineage in their favor. Binay, the longtime mayor of Makati City has risen to the vice presidency quite spectacularly. Roxas, is the grandson of the late President Manuel Roxas. Escudero, also the scion of a political clan, is a consistent Senate topnotcher. Same with Revilla whose family rules the province of Cavite. Grace Poe, topnotcher in the 2013 Senate race, is daughter of the late movie legend and defeated presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. And Vilma Santos-Recto is the star governor of Batangas province and the wife of Sen. Ralph Recto.
And then there is businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan. Without political affiliation and any previous experience in public office (much like a Nancy Binay), political analysts see Pangilinan—or MVP as he is more popularly known—as a certified dark horse for 2016. And with good reason.
While Binay has no qualms about his dream of becoming President, MVP is quick to admit that “no political blood…runs through my veins.” But given his technocratic skills, MVP could probably fare better than the other potential candidates—whose only claim to fame and public office are their family names.
The chairman of PLDT, TV5, Philex Mining and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), MVP has “singlehandedly” built one of the largest business empires in the Philippines. MVP also has the education to back his business skills having graduated cum laude from the Ateneo de Manila University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and having earned an MBA degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Synonymous to telecommunications, media, power , water, mining, education, infrastructure, sports etc., MVP—given his reservations of running for public office–seems a very good choice for 2016. All he has to do is ride on a platform that promises lower electricity, telephone and water rates and he is a shoo-in for the Presidency in 2016.
As it is, MVP already has much of the country on his plate. If he runs and wins in 2016—he’ll be President and CEO of Philippines, Inc.
- Manny V. Pangilinan : Miracle Man (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- PLDT, Gokongwei expanding alliance (manilastandardtoday.com)
- The social cancer of Philippine society (rappler.com)
- Nearly 100 Philippine rebels killed or captured (bigstory.ap.org)
- Binay lambasted online for ‘epal’ relief bags (technology.inquirer.net)
- Editorial : MVP for President (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Cavitex investment pays off for MVP group (rappler.com)
- Torrential rains shut down Philippine capital (bigstory.ap.org)
- Saskatchewan Offers 14K jobs for PH Workers (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- FirstPac eyes Cojuangco mill (manilastandardtoday.com)
by Al Labita
HE has long shunned politics.
But like a ghost, his name haunts the political landscape now abuzz with rumors in the run-up to the 2016 elections.
From obscurity, Manuel V. Pangilinan, aka MVP, suddenly shot to prominence, being bruited about as a potential “dark horse” in the next presidential race. What props up MVP’s stock is his technocratic skill that transformed the once struggling Hong Kong-based First Pacific Company Ltd. into one of Asia’s profitable corporate titans. He may not have any political affiliation, but he has the money. The self-made billionaire sportsman has made it to the elite list of US-based Forbes Magazine as one of the Philippines’ richest men, joining the ranks of taipans Henry Sy, Lucio Tan and the Ayalas. He was listed as the Philippines’ 50th wealthiest with an estimated net worth of P4.5 billion as of July 2013.
Undoubtedly, MVP boasts impeccable credentials. As the top honcho of First Pacific, he steered its phenomenal growth over the past decades. From selling Indonesian noodles, the company diversified into banking, finance and property, mainly in Hong Kong and Jakarta, the headquarters of parent Salim Group. In mid ‘90s, MVP saw an opportunity to return to his country where he learned the ropes of the trade, so to speak, as an investment banker.
At the time, the telecom industry was liberalized, enabling him and his group to launch a bid to take over the then financially ailing Philippines Long Distance Telephone (PLDT). With PLDT as flagship, there was no stopping him from venturing into other profit centers — ranging from power to mining, toll roads, media, water and related utilities – all under a listed holding firm, Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) chaired by MVP.
Today, the Philippines accounts for 70 percent of First Pacific’s offshore forays, a sign of his abiding faith and confidence in his country’s business potentials.
The Miracle Man
MVP has earned the trust of the very rich, with track record in making sure stakeholders in companies he runs get back their money’s worth. That kind of character is what the Philippines needs now. One who takes care of the trust given him by stockholders. One who has not and will not betray his bosses, the investors.
Our publication, OpinYon, is of the thought that the Philippines if run like a corporation could get out from the economic hole it is drowning in and bring real prosperity to this country. And who could run giant companies and turn around losses better than the proven miracle man himself – MVP.
Given the chance to run the Philippines like those giant companies he has turned around to make profits, MVP could serve his “bosses”, the Filipinos, like he is serving those who trust him with their money.
Given a change of heart in the people towards trapos, MVP has better than fair chance of earning the trust of the people and win the election for President.
After Pres. Benigno S. Aquino has been stripped of his mask and now earning public ridicule, most Filipinos are asking: who should lead this country?
MVP has the campaign infrastructure to win in a political contest. He has good grip of respected media in, print and broadcast. His business interests are almost everywhere in communications and utilities. He has an army of loyal workers, satisfied in their pay like at PLDT, Meralco and other MVP firms which are among blue chips traded on the Philippine bourse and are the usual top picks by both foreign and local investors.
Credit also goes to MVP for laying the foundation – in terms of infrastructure –of what is now known as “Global City,” a former Army Camp, in Taguig City after winning its public bidding. Amid public outrage over the “pork barrel” scandal, the tycoon appears to be a logical choice as an alternative to dyed-in-the-wool trapos in a rapidly shifting political milieu.
Should he throw his hat in the political arena, it’s likely the media outfits – TV 5, Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star and the Business World – under his corporate umbrella would come in handy in a political campaign.
But in his media comments, MVP has thumbed down any ambition to seek a public office.
‘There is no political blood that runs through my veins. I believe I can serve our people better some other way.”
He reacted to rumors that, on the prodding of friends and business associates, he would seek an elective position in the 2016 elections. Pundits believe he would make a great president, given his “technocratic skills.” At a recent forum on the 2016 presidential elections, organized by the Center for Philippine Futuristics Studies and Management Inc., political analyst Antonio Gatmaitan said Pangilinan “could bring his technocratic skills to address the complicated economic issues that will confront the nation and help address a few selective social issues.”
Gatmaitan knows whereof he speaks as he is the executive director of the Political Economic Applied Research Foundation. In case Pangilinan decides to run for the country’s top post in May 2016, Gatmaitan said: “Imagine the excitement it can create.” Ramon Casiple, the executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, said it is clear that Pangilinan has a political agenda in buying stakes in a diversified mix of financially distressed companies and turning them around as money spinners. He also believes Pangilinan would be the dark horse candidate in the 2016 presidential elections. “I agree there is a dark horse. And that’s MVP,” Casiple said.
Apolitical he may be, MVP’s thoughts – often expressed in media interviews – betray what could be his hidden political agenda. In not a few instances that he articulated his own vision for the country favoring investments in such critical businesses as tourism, mining, utilities and information and communications technology.
To him, investments in infrastructure such as power plants, toll roads, seaports and airports are vital to lower the cost of domestic production – ideas that would serve as dividends or profit-sharing with Filipinos should the government turn corporate-oriented and business-like under the banner of what would become the Philippines, Inc and with him as a prospective CEO.
Pangilinan believed that the country’s leaders should be more involved in coming up with long-term solutions and move beyond short-term crisis management if they aspire for the country to grow and move forward.
On election, his view is that it should provide a rare opportunity to define the country’s long-term economic and social priorities, and form a broad consensus around them.
He noted that the private sector should take the lead in mobilizing and directing infrastructure spending, adding the government’s assistance is needed as well.
“The private sector cannot operate on its own. It must seek government help and assistance. In infrastructure, public-private-sector partnership will be critical—the private sector being the moving force and the government providing the relevant incentives, support and enabling regulatory framework.” In more ways than one, MVP is also a philanthropist through his Kapatid Foundation.
In Bacolod city, the City Council approved a resolution declaring MVP an adopted son, noting that his life’s success story is an inspiration that is worth emulating by all Filipinos.
During his years in Hong Kong, he founded and chaired the Bayanihan Center that provided cultural and vocational activities for Filipino domestic workers there. In December 2012, he mobilized his telecommunication companies in a national telethon that raised millions of pesos to aid the victims of typhoon Pablo.
“This simple and hearty resolution is a manifestation that the city government of Bacolod truly recognizes the services and contributions of Pangilinan in the different sectors or our community,” the resolution reads.
Talk about MVP running for president is not new. In 2010, media placements launching the “Ako Mismo” advocacy movement fueled speculations that he was keen in the country’s plum post. Public perception then was that the movement was meant to be MVP’s platform had he decided to throw his hat in the political arena.
“If given the chance and if there is a possibility of winning, MVP will run for president,” a businessman said.
But, in a statement, MVP clarified that the movement was intended to awaken and spread the Filipinos’ sense of responsibility as an individual. “Our legacy is that reliance on community, government and family must be balanced by strong personal accountability,” he says.
“As for myself, I am not running for any political office. I am truly at home running a business,” a statement viewed with skepticism by doubting Thomases among eagle-eyed political watchers.
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- Top PH firms help quake victims (rappler.com)
- From Pastor Leovin Pangilinan (happybirthdaypastorronald.wordpress.com)
- Nearly 100 Philippine rebels killed or captured (bigstory.ap.org)
- San Miguel to Raise $2 Billion Selling Stake in Manila Electric (bloomberg.com)
- Adjustment letter (innieyyyy.wordpress.com)