deadliest deadline

meandering thoughts on the beat

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Pacific no plan

A former boss in the Times once said that the job of the journalist is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

I have always believed in causes, somehow. As a reporter, I don’t think I agree with the idea that a reporter has to be “objective.” “Fairness” would be a more accurate term, rather than “objectivity.” But the journalistic as well as philosophical implications of this should be the subject of another blog entry.

For now, this is about the PPI tradplan holders.

From the looks of it, this group came together by sheer serendipity. They just happened to find themselves in the same predicament and believing there is strength in numbers, have decided to fight back. And rightly so!

I have been in close contact with the group and I find most of their stories heart-wrenching. I don’t suppose naman they are manufacturing these things. It becomes very hard to be “objective” in this case, or at the very least distant yourself from the story when its little kids involved. What really riles me is this simple thing: Pacific broke the contract, not the plan holders.

The plan holders went through so much just to continue payments of those plans. If you miss one payment, you risk default. So they had to have moved heaven and earth for the payments. And now the company just throws its arms in the air and says, “That’s it. We can’t pay you anymore.” I don’t think so.

Sure tuition shot up when it was deregulated. But the company should have seen that coming. That’s not good sound business if the didn’t. Nagsara na lang sana sila nuon.

I went to the supposed “Pacific Plan holders forum/meeting” today and I was more disturbed (seems like being disturbed, for the lack of any other term, is the norm when pursuing some stories, or is it perturbed?).

It turned out that it wasn’t for the Pacific Plan holders nor was it a forum. Take note: there was an announcement outside the venue welcoming “Pacific Plan holders” and a banner in the venue which said it was a “Plan Holders Forum.”

The event started an hour late. First up was a slide presentation on why the company had to apply for rehab before a Makati court. Tuition fee deregulation was cited, heard that already. The slide presentation also drummed up how the company supposedly tried to save the situation, heard that too already. Ho-hum.

Then I was informed that the program only consisted of slide presentations and no open forum. Not good, I thought, things are going to get dicey.

I wasn’t wrong. Things started to get heated after the first slide presentation when the plan holders began clamoring for answers. Can’t blame them. They didn’t drive all the way to PICC just to listen to propaganda.

And then, one bright boy from the company goes up to the mike and says, “Plan holders are not invited here.” The plan holders stood up and left.

Is that the way the company treats its clients? They are not just plain clients they are considered creditors. Like stockholders, they have a stake in the company the same way that Mr. PPI Bright Boy does. My heart goes out to them, all they wanted was answers and that is the treatment they get.

PPI Spokeswoman Bright Girl Atty. T. then has the gall to say that the plan holders were actually not invited? What a laugh! I felt so insulted and I was so close to throwing up my own arms in the air and leaving in a huff.

Of course, there were other plan holders who lambasted the so-called troublemakers and expressed their disgust at them and what happened.

“There will be a time for PPI to explain all of this.” When, for the love of God, when!? The plan holders were there so there was no better time.

“They should have been more civilized and calm.” When the future of your children is at stake, it’s very hard to stay calm.

I pity these fools, totally.

PPI officials say they would organize another forum for plan holders. All I can say is: IT’S ABOUT FRIGGIN’ TIME! What the hell did it take them that long? I will never know.

So it all really boils down between the shenanigans of big business vs. the poor average joe, of how a company took its stakeholders money and left them with false hopes. It’s a story of bad PR covering up for greed, deception, and at the least, just plain lack of transparency.

Then again, haven’t we read this story before?


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