Dead meat

On many occasions, we are our own enemies. Our words or actions put the bullet that shoots us in the foot, and then, it is too late to undo what we did. Because of a lack of better reading of the scenario, we do certain things that harm us. Ultimately, we engage in actions that are really self-sabotage.

One of the biggest self-inflicted obstacles we can impose against our personal advancement is wrong words or assessments. Words are very powerful – they can build you or bring you down. They say, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me.” Oh, I’m afraid that’s not right.

Take the case of this undersecretary who presented a critical program under the Marcos administration’s digitalization initiative in the flow of trade in the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Ports Authority.

Unaware of what the digitalization system is, it was PPA’s Trusted Operator Program-Container Registry and Monitoring System that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. threw his support for.

During his presentation at last week’s Private Sector Advisory Council in Malacañan Palace, the Department of Transportation Undersecretary for Maritime Elmer Sarmiento told the President the TOP-CRMS is “just a redundancy” of present systems enforced by the Bureau of Customs, and there is no need for it.

But PBBM reportedly shot down Sarmiento’s statement and told the group, “Isn’t that what we need, a redundancy in the system so everything will be checked and monitored properly?”

Apparently, the President was still angry over what happened at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on 1 January when its Communications, Navigation and Surveillance-Air Traffic Management failed with its backup systems that were supposed to provide a redundant alternative in case of systems failure.

According to our source, Sarmiento presented the oppositors’ objections to the TOP-CRMS and sought the assistance of the PSAC to validate the objections.

But the President wants to implement the program ASAP.

Who is Usec. Elmer Sarmiento?

Usec. Sarmiento was the former chief executive of the Royal Cargo Group and its shipping division, Iris Lines. It is interesting to note that the biggest oppositors to the TOP-CRMS are the international shipping lines that charge container deposits ranging from P10,000 to P20,000/TEU up to P100,000 for specialized containers such as flat rack and reefer containers to Customs brokers, freight forwarders, and truckers.

The truckers, brokers, and freight forwarders oppose these container deposits.

Industry insiders argue that Sarmiento should have at least inhibited himself in the discussion on the issue since he used to belong to the sector that the project would significantly impact. According to them, when he joined the government service, Sarmiento’s primary function was public service.

Delicadeza also dictates that Sarmiento should allow the discussions on the TOP-CRMS among critical stakeholders without his influence to erase the perception that he is favoring a certain sector.

“The president wants the TOP-CRMS to proceed,” an official who attended the PSAC said. “He dismissed speculations that the app is just a ‘redundancy’ of an existing system.”

According to the Presidential Communications Office, Marcos is frustrated that the present system needs to be fixed despite efforts to curb smuggling.

“To be brutally frank, we have a system, but they are not working. The smuggling here in this country is absolutely rampant. So it does not matter to me how many systems we have in place, and they do not work,” he told PSAC, as quoted by the Presidential Communications Office.

“So we have to find something else. We cannot continue to depend on these systems, which have already proven themselves to be quite ineffective.”

The TOP-CRMS is one of the most effective solutions PBBM sees as a permanent system to plug the leak in that space.

While it seems surprising, Usec. Sarmiento may have unwittingly undermined his own intentions and long-term in that PSAC meeting. Self-sabotage occurs when a person hinders his own success.

When people choose this destructive path, they can negatively impact all aspects of their lives, including their careers and relationship — with the President.


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