Thursday’s announcement that Jaime “Jimmy” Bautista will serve as the country’s next Transportation Secretary under the administration of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was roundly welcomed by the public and the industry’s key stakeholders.
After all, Bautista has spent decades running one of the largest companies in the local transport industry. We’re talking about Philippine Airlines (PAL) which “JJB”—as he is known in business circles—ran for a long time.
For sure, improving the sorry state of the country’s airports will be high on Bautista’s list of priorities, along with making other public transportation networks more efficient, now that the economy is reopening after more than two years under a pandemic.
But yesterday’s rumor mill was also abuzz with one question repeated over and over: How will Bautista, as Transportation chief, treat PAL and the Lucio Tan group?
And that question does not imply that he would favor his former employer, just to be clear. The apprehension is that it would be the exact opposite, in fact.
That’s because Bautista “retired” rather abruptly in mid-2019 amid a rough and tumble power play within the Lucio Tan group (as all the power plays are in that empire) that saw the seat of influence shift to one faction that saw the PAL presidency as a coveted prize.
The announcement of his retirement was so abrupt, in fact, that it was made while he was attending the Paris Air Show to receive an award for the airline itself.
So … payback time? No worries, Bautista’s close friends say. “Jimmy isn’t vindictive. He’s a professional and he will do what’s best for the transportation sector and the country,” said one close associate. Time will tell, of course. Abangan!
— Daxim L. Lucas
Smash the smishing!
Up until now, you are still probably getting text messages about fake job hirings or investment schemes. Scammers are proving to be relentless and many might fall for their gimmicks, unfortunately. Why? People have been financially struggling during this pandemic, and a potential source of income is a relief they yearn for.
These texts are identified as “smishing”, a portmanteau for “SMS phishing”. This is a fraudulent activity where scammers trick users into giving out their personal and sensitive information via mobile messages.
Telecommunication firms have been ramping up their efforts to address the matter. Most recently, PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications Inc. blocked over 23 million smishing messages from June 11 to 14 alone, which only shows how rampant these texts are.
These were significantly more than the 600,000 text messages found to be related to smishing, hoaxes and spamming the Manuel Pangilinan-led firms foiled from January to May.
“PLDT and Smart have increased the frequency of our detection and blocking activities to keep our customers safe. We are constantly upgrading our tools to stay ahead of criminals,” said Angel Redoble, chief information security officer at PLDT and Smart.
“We continue to engage our partners both in the government and private sector to keep the Group updated on the latest threats and how perpetrators run their modus,” Redoble added.
The group also blocked almost 78,000 SIM (subscriber identity module) cards linked to smishing from January to May.
Globe Telecom, meanwhile, reported last month that it blocked 142,575 smishing messages in February and March.
Ayala-led telco Globe Telecom said, meanwhile, it was continuously improving its security tools and platforms to shield users from illegal texts, enabling channels where individuals can report information or concerns about frauds and scams.
—Tyrone Jasper C. Piad
Grab PH’s ‘Biga10’ anniversary
On its 10th anniversary, Grab Philippines recognized the pillars that helped the company endure the pandemic: drivers, delivery partners and merchants.
The super app operator held a “Biga10” celebration in Conrad Manila in Pasay last week to honor 10 of its most outstanding stakeholders, who provided services for the platform even at the height of the lockdown measures.
Honoree Jester Ocampo Castor, a delivery partner, said that doing his job for Grab allowed him to earn a living for his family and save some money for his studies.
“One of the things that I like about Grab is that merchants, big or small, have the opportunity to expand and grow,” shared Marvin Cabreza, a merchant partner.
Grab country head Grace Vera Cruz said this was the company’s mission.
“It is about making sure that we sustainably grow our drivers and delivery partners through the ups and downs of the economy,” she said.
Looking back 10 years ago, she recalled that Grab started with only one service: ride hailing.
It has since grown into a super app offering a suite of solutions for its consumers, including food and parcel delivery, grocery shopping, e-wallet, bills payment, insurance and many more.
Cruz also proudly shared that Grab has a presence in over 100 cities and municipalities in the country, such as Cebu, Davao, Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Bacolod and Metro Manila.
“I’m very excited for Grab. There’s so much more in store not just over the next 10 years but over the next hundred years,” she said.
—Tyrone Jasper C. Piad
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