People need jobs, not impeachments
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - March 27, 2017 - 12:00am

San Miguel Corp. gave investors another reason to buy up its shares. It announced last Wednesday, World Water Day, a conglomerate-wide plan to halve its operational use of water by 2025. Given SMC's size and diversity (P52 billion net income in 2016), that goal translates to billions of pesos in added profits. Reducing its water footprint ensures SMC's longevity and prestige. Its army of employees, business partners, suppliers, and host communities focusing on conserving water would incite a national movement.

Water has no substitute in manufacturing, unlike oils and lubes. It is the main ingredient in many of SMC's brands, like 90 percent of beer and 85 percent of liquor. In its other lines, water is used to clean, cool, steam, and pasteurize. It is essential to raw materials and packaging, and in power and oil refining.

SMC is to employ methods like recycling and reuse, rainwater harvesting and desalination. Operating standards will be established, dry machining adopted, and all water in production lines metered for better audit. Even rainwater runoff from storms and tap water would be conserved. The aim is to cut the use of fresh and groundwater, and minimize wastewater, president-COO Ramon Ang said.

That conservation equates to profits long has been proven. Mine processors in America notched higher revenues starting in the 1970s largely due to reduced water use. Same with carmakers, which cut by two-thirds the amount of water expended to produce one sedan. In the Philippines, a giant mall chain pioneered in collecting rainwater on roofs and in parking lots for toilets and cleaning. It wouldn't be a surprise if, down the road, SMC's water saving program transforms it into a water supply utility.

* * *

The impeachment and counter-impeachment of the two highest officials of the land will not prosper. They are political numbers games that depend largely on the people's consent. And Filipinos clearly are tired of politicking that only divert attention from the issues at hand. What they want are jobs, stable consumer prices, and law and order.

It’s unlikely that 100 congressmen, one-third of the 297, as required by the Constitution, would sign a rap against President Rodrigo Duterte. His super-majority grip on the House of Representatives is firm. Nearly all the reps from various other parties had switched to his side due to his unprecedented 91-percent popularity right after election. Allegations of “P2-billion unexplained wealth” and “promoting extrajudicial killings” thus serve more as propaganda than prosecution. Even Sen. Antonio Trillanes, Duterte's arch-foe, says so about the charge sheet he had approved for filing in the House. He was quoted in The STAR yesterday as saying the impeachment was not meant to remove the President from office but just make him accountable. In short, he's just baiting him into a blabber match, that's all.

Impeaching Vice President Leni Robredo might be easier, precisely due to Duterte's super-majority that views her as a nuisance. They could gather overnight the 100 signatures – approved without thinking – to send her to a Senate trial. But the rap is so flimsy – “spreading fake news” – that conviction would be iffy. With an eye always for the Presidency, senators are very sensitive to public sentiment. Robredo might have only six defenders in the 24-seat Senate. But they readily can get three more votes to defeat any conviction by the two-thirds, or 16.

So out with the impeachments. On with economic action. People want the national leadership to give them jobs. Close to four million workers, 8.7 percent of the labor force, were laid off in the last quarter of 2016. Another two million, 4.3 percent, first-time job seekers couldn't find any. It's terrible to have no work nor money on Christmas and the New Year. About 750,000 new college grads will be looking for work this month. They won't find any if the politicos' attention is on attempting to bring down the President and the Vice President.

Clearly in order is to convene the LEDAC (Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council) with the sole agenda of employment. The LEDAC would bring together the feuding President and Vice President, and the Cabinet economic secretaries, with the Senate President, the House Speaker, their deputies and majority leaders, and their opposing minority leaders. They can put their heads together to craft policies, programs, and laws that would generate jobs. The options are many, like prioritizing labor-intensive investments, contracting only services that employ more people per P1 million, and requiring all 42,000 barangays to each hire a registered nurse or midwife to look after residents’ health.

* * *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA

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