Buencamino does political affairs analysis for Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was published in the newspaper Today, 6 August 2004, page 8.
AIG is one of the largest insurance companies in the world. It has so
many subsidiaries in so many countries that it is literally an
everywhere company that can disguise itself for any occasion. It is a
rare bird of prey with chameleon-like qualities.
College Assurance Plan (CAP) was described by an editorial in this
paper as “the plan they (Don Enrique Sobrepena in particular)
introduced in the country to ensure the college education expenses of
Filipinos who cannot afford to send their kids to Harvard or Bryn Mawr
for college.” In other words, if CAP did not exist it would have to
have been invented. How many Filipinos would have nothing but a high
school diploma to show if not for CAP?
CAP has probably done more to make higher education for Filipinos a
reality than any other organization in the Philippines and that
includes the Department of Education. Yet, Lilia Bautista of the SEC
plans to give it away to a foreign company that has done nothing for
the Filipino that is worth measuring.
Every year, CAP holds birth anniversary programs in the different home
provinces of our national heroes. It sponsors commemorative programs in
order to inspire our youth and instill a sense of pride in their
nation. It is a project that CAP’s founder believes in and cares for—he
handles it personally—and Lilia Bautista plans to take it away from him
and give it to some company that will most likely hold commemorative
programs for William McKinley and Adm. Dewey.
Lilia Bautista will give away a company founded by a Filipino for the
Filipino to an alien conglomerate on the advice of agile consultants
[pun intended] who said that a college assurance plan’s viability must
be computed in life insurance terms.
One cannot even use the “comparing apples and oranges” metaphor in this
case because at least that metaphor has fruit as a common denominator.
No, the appropriate metaphor for this case is to say that it’s like
forcing Lilia Bautista of the SEC into the tight jeans of Cameron Diaz
of Charlie’s Angels.
This brewing CAP scandal brings to mind one recent one case. The Manila
Hotel sale was cancelled by the Supreme Court because it was declared
part of the nation’s heritage and had to remain in Filipino hands, even
if the Filipino possessed a three-letter name.
The hotel is part of our heritage because it is the gray lady of
Philippine hotels. It hosted Mac Arthur, visiting VIPs, political
conventions, wedding receptions, debutante balls, and dances for the
Kahirup. For generations, it was the meeting place of the rich who
patronized its restaurants, ballrooms and suites and their poor
“chofers” and “yayas” who met each other at the hotel’s parking lot and
No, CAP doesn’t share any of those distinctions with Manila Hotel. All
it has accomplished through all these years is to insure and ensure the
higher education of our youth and promote programs that inspire them to
emulate the greatest among our race.
In the name of national interest, the government can and does show
political will, and it can do so again in the CAP case—if it so wishes.
In fact, on two occasions, government turned its back on international
commitments: when it decided to renege on a contract to keep the Manila
Hotel in Filipino hands and when it was forced to save Angelo de la
Cruz’s head. Yet this time, the government, through Lilia Bautista,
will stab a Filipino pioneer in the back and give his life’s work to a
favored foreign company.
“Ave de rapina.” I’m sorry, but I can think of no better term to
describe a creature who will kill one of its own and feed it to a bird
of prey, so that it can nourish itself from that bird’s droppings.