Friday, September 22, 2006

Opportunity in Tragedy

Two days ago, the Light Cargo Tanker (LCT) contracted by Petron Corporation and the Philippine Coast Guard to take out the collected oil sludge in Guimaras finally departed Cabalagnan Wharf in Nueva Valencia for Mindanao. Carrying around 500 Metric Tons of bunker fuel sludge and assorted debris, the LCT will deliver the waste material to the Holcim Cement Plant located in Lugait, Misamis Oriental where it will be used as an alternative fuel and raw material for cement production. Another 2,000-ton capacity barge is currently at dock at Nueva Valencia, just waiting to be loaded to its full capacity. The people of Guimaras can now heave a sigh of relief seeing that the highly toxic oil sludge are finally being taken out of their island province. People should also be thankful to Petron Corporation for voluntarily shouldering the cost of transporting and disposing the collected oil sludge. Or should they?

In a blog entry here dated September 7, I wrote that an Australian liquid waste treatment firm was offering to treat FOR FREE the collected oil sludge in Guimaras. I then made inquiries and emailed several Petron officials about the offer. To my dismay, I got no response - not even an acknowledgement. Now I know why Petron Corporation officials did not accept the offer of my Australian contact.

Guess who owns Holcim-Philippines? C’mon take a guess. Sirit?

It is none other than Alsons Cement Corporation, a company owned by the family of Petron Chairman Nick Alcantara. In other words, by giving the contaminated oil to Holcim, the Alcantara-owned cement plant effectively received free fuel from the oil spill. Talk about making money out of a tragedy. As the old Chinese proverb says; "In every problem there is an opportunity." Kung sa Tagalog pa: “Nakatulong ka na, kumita ka pa." Galing galling talaga, di ba?

Alsons, which stands for Alcantara & Sons, is a family corporation which made its fortune in Mindanao engaging in agribusiness, retailing and extractive concerns like cement mining. Today, Alsons is one of the biggest Filipino-owned corporations in the country and Alsons Cement is just one of the many companies owned by the Alcantara Group of Companies. The Alcantara family also owns Alsons Corporation, Conal Corporation, Alsons Insurance Brokers Corporation, Saranggani Agricultural Corporation, Inc., Alsons Aquaculture Co., Inc., Alsons Development & Investment Corp., Alsons Land Corp., and C. Alcantara & Sons, Inc.

Holcim is a global cement brand based in Europe. In the Philippines, Holcim is co-owned by Alsons Cement Corporation and Union Cement Corporation (which also owns Hi Cement Corp., Davao Union Cement Corp. and Bacnotan Cement Corp.). In its web site, Holcim Philippines Inc. claims to be the leading cement manufacturer in the Philippines, employing 1,400 employees in four plants across the archipelago. It operates four cement plants – one in La Union, another in Bulacan, a third in Davao City and the Lugait Plant in Misamis Oriental. These plants account for a total installed clinker production capacity per year of 7.2 million metric tons and annual cement production capacity of 8.7 million metric tons. It is currently applying for tax incentives in the BOI.

The Alcantaras are widely-known for their entrepreneurial savvy, both in Manila and Mindanao business circles. And as a seeming testament to this fact, they were even able to turn the oil splll tragedy into an opportunity. Hanep! Mabuhay ang Pinoy entrepreneur!!


The fiery Senator from Iloilo, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, has been diagnosed to be suffering from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder. In a letter sent to Senate President Manuel Villar Jr., Santiago requested for an indefinite leave of absence so that she can recuperate in the hospital. Senator Santiago promised to report back to the Senate on Sept. 25.


Anonymous said...

Another opportunity in tragedy...several Ilonggo reporters and broadcasters getting P3,000 a week from Petron PR...just a miniscule amount of the company's P80 million PR budget to cover up its hideous activities in Guimaras. As a PR practitioner, Oliver, don't you think these paid hacks are selling themselves short? But then again, greed makes people stupid.

saveguimaras said...

hey iloilo boy, can i post this story in the blog? i can link it back to your profile, but id like to put the whole thing there. =) let me know. please email me