COCKTALES: Noynoying - fact or mischievous spin? means BUSINESS

With no less than the Asian Wall Street Journal having picked up the Noynoying propaganda chatter against PNoy, Cocktales did a quick fact-check if the country's chief executive had indeed been loafing around as his detractors paint him to be.

First, let us assume that the President of the Philippines is expected to work Mondays to Fridays only, just like any government employee.

Next, we give PNoy credit for holding public engagements on weekends and holidays, when the rest of government salarymen are taking it easy.

What do the available public records show?

For the first week of January, PNoy just like many Filipinos seemed to have trouble shaking off the holiday bug, having taken no official or public engagement on the first and even the third working day of the year.

Before the long Yuletide-New Year break, PNoy was last seen publicly on December 23, when he attended the traditional Christmas welcome for returning workers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The holiday mode was broken the first Sunday of the year, when, if you may recall, PNoy and a number of grim-looking Cabinet members held a hastily-arranged press conference to warn about a possible terrorist attack (that thankfully did not happen) on the Black Nazarene procession the following day.

Other than that, PNoy had, as government-speak have it, "private time" for the rest of the Saturdays and Sundays of the first month of the year. Likewise, he did not have any public engagement on January 23, a Monday.

The leap month of February began with PNoy absenting himself from any public engagement on the second day, a Thursday, as well as on Valentine's Day.

The bachelor president did, however, make up for the February 14 absence by appearing on the first Saturday at the Villamor air base for the Family Rosary Crusade, and following week's Sunday by flying to Aurora province. He also had a series of Edsa 1 events on February 25, a Saturday.

The first week of March started off with PNoy missing even from the friendly Malacanang reporters on March 7 and 8, right after ringing the opening bell at the Philippine Stock Exchange to mark the bourse's record climb.

The President then went on a stealth mode beginning Saturday until Thursday, March 16, when the Palace issued a single photo release showing P.Noy on his desk going over some documents.

The Malacañang explanation was that the chief executive had not been feeling well, apparently for days already, thus missing even an appointment long set up by his key financial booster, Ramon del Rosario of the Phinma Group.

In any case, the President seemed to have felt much better that weekend that he helicoptered up to Baguio to attend the annual PMA graduation rites.

Unfortunately, Monday, he was again missing in action. 

Airlines buffeted by under-the-table allowances

International flights landing in Kalibo are grumbling about the under-the-table allowances that the airlines have been shelling out to immigration, customs and quarantine personnel since the Aklan airport began receiving foreign flights in 2007.

According to the grapevine, the issue of receipt-less payments, which for March 1-7 week alone totaled over P1.58 million, was raised by unhappy airline executives during a recent meeting with Transportation Undersecretary Rene Limcaoco.

Limcaoco, a newbie in government, was taken aback by the arrangement, saying it was the first time he had heard of it, according to one airline executive.

Similar to the decades-long practice in the Manila international airport where airlines had been shouldering the overtime pay of the ICQ personnel, the Kalibo practice started on May 11, 2007 with an Asian Spirit charter flight from Seoul.

With Kalibo having no ICQ staff, the Aklan airport had to borrow from Iloilo six Immigration, seven Customs and two personnel each from plant, aquatic, veterinary and human quarantine agencies to receive the pioneering foreign flight.

As an incentive, each ICQ personnel received P1,500 in food and transportation expenses for every flight, courtesy of Asian Spirit, an arrangement that continues to this day with five airlines now flying planeloads of tourists to Boracay.

Heard through the grapevine

Philippine National Bank president Carlos Pedrosa is set to follow PNB Capital president Manuel Banayad to the exit door.

Pedrosa, who was just appointed to the position mid-July, has agreed to step down from the presidency after the next stockholders' meeting sealing the merger of PNB with Allied Bank.

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