On privatization

There will be difficulties on the part of the affected government employees, but these can be addressed with an acceptable severance package or their transfer to other government offices.

September 1, 2022

Basketball is the undisputed sports language of Filipinos. Ask anyone in the streets, schools, and offices about basketball, and you will surely get colorful reactions and opinions on the latest topics regarding basketball, may it be local collegiate, professional, or foreign, i.e. the NBA. Right now, the hottest topic is our national team, known as Gilas Pilipinas, which was joined by a legitimate NBA superstar, Jordan Clarkson, of the Utah Jazz.

In his first local game in Manila, pitted against the national team of Saudi Arabia, Clarkson was welcomed by throngs of enamored and passionate basketball fans at the SM MOA Arena, led by no less our President Bongbong Marcos Jr. Our Philippine team emerged victorious, and we hope for similar success in the upcoming FIBA World Cup. The team played fluidly, nearly a perfect game, the only smudge came to the embattled head coach Chot Reyes, who from being the darling of Filipino basketball fans an eternity ago, from the famous catchphrase “puso”, Reyes is now the target of all the hate and butt of jokes for all the shortcomings of Gilas.

Quick caveat: I am not a sports critic, and neither is this a sports column. But I must join Manny V. Pangilinan in inviting the support of the country behind our still incumbent coach of the Philippine team. He remains our leader, and just like President Marcos, Jr., his success means and translates to success for the country.

The success of the Philippine team can also be attributed to the basketball system introduced and funded by Pangilinan years ago. Our national team is a national treasurer. Their victories raise the morale of Filipinos of all classes and ages, just like Manny Pacquiao in boxing. Yet, we allow the development of our team to be somehow, privatized by wealthy businessmen for both the benefit of the country and their businesses. This is also the reason why at times there was difficulty in bringing in talented players from teams not owned by the Pangilinan group. This, however, should not stop our team from improving; basketball is a team sport, after all.

If you relate this to other industries, there are clear benefits to privatization. Government resources are scarce, especially at this time when most funding has gone to Covid-19 pandemic efforts.

Finance Secretary Ben Diokno recently said that the government shall embark on a massive privatization effort. Relatedly the Governance Commission for GOCCs said in a legislative hearing, through Director, Atty. Jan Barcena, that it is pushing for oversight powers over all GOCCs, despite the privatization efforts of the administration. While this appears to be counteractive what Secretary. Diokno said the GCG is only preparing for the eventuality of privatization or closure of identified government offices and assets.

They also mentioned that they are recommending the closure of four GOCCs — an effort I support even without knowing which GOCCs these will be. Informatively, the GCG has previously led the closure of 31 GOCCs and privatization of four others. With these initiatives, there will be difficulties on the part of the affected government employees, but these can be addressed with an acceptable severance package or their transfer to other government offices.

By privatizing government functions, you hit several birds with a single stone. For one thing, it reduces government spending and eliminate redundancy. It trims bureaucratic fat, thereby increasing efficiency. Another, it allows the government to focus on its more important functions. We should rally behind the privatization efforts of the government; our Gilas team is living proof that it works.

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