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Sunday, February 28, 2021

In response to Senator Grace Poe

Wazzup Pilipinas!

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) takes exception at the apparent zeal and relentless ardor of Senator Grace Poe to unduly shut down a program of the Executive branch, meant to elevate the standards of road worthiness of vehicles, and uphold ROAD SAFETY.

Yesterday, Senator Poe alleged that the DOTr and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) are yet to officially declare that vehicle inspection at Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Centers (PMVICs) is no longer mandatory, and that its inspection fees were reduced to the same level as Private Emission Testing Centers (PETCs), since she said, no official documented order had been issued.

The DOTr was asked to comment on this specific assertion by the Senator, and our prompt response was to provide the media and the public with a copy of an official LTO Memorandum dated 11 February 2021, which specifically directs LTO regional directors and personnel concerned to ensure the strict implementation of the President’s order to make vehicle inspection from PMVICs non-mandatory, as well as the directive of the DOTr on lowered PMVIC inspection fees. Though not required by law, the said Memorandum has been submitted for publication at the Office of the National Administrative Register of the U.P. Law Center.

This response clearly debunked the false assertion of Senator Poe.

Now, since the senator is resorting to obfuscation and muddling the issue of the PMVICs with unfounded and unfair accusations of corruption and incompetence, allow us to set the record straight.

Senator Poe's initial statement refers to the alleged absence of a formal order or issuance. The DOTr promptly belied the claim by showing the actual memorandum. With this, the good senator then tried to re-frame the issue by dismissing the memo as an internal documentation, and not an official presentation and pronouncement for public consumption.

Allow us to remind the good Senator that when the matter of lowered inspection fees and reversing the mandatory requirement of the PMVIC was announced by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on 11 February 2021, the DOTr and LTO fully complemented the same pronouncement by formally holding a virtual press conference, on the very same day, together with representatives from the health and environment sectors, and officers of the Vehicle Inspection Center Owners Association of the Philippines (VICOAP).

The said policy shift, as ordered, was widely announced and circulated by both mainstream and social media, with official information provided by the official spokesperson of the President, the DOTr and the LTO, and confirmed by the VICOAP.

In fact, even Senator Bong Go made a public pronouncement lauding the efforts of the DOTr to reach out to PMVIC owners and push for a pandemic special rate to ensure that no unnecessary burden is imposed on Filipinos. Hence, despite expanding the requirements for vehicle inspection and improving mechanisms to ensure road worthiness of vehicles, the cost to be shouldered by motorists will remain unchanged. The new inspection system will not be mandatory, and reinspection fees will likewise be waived.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also made a clarificatory announcement on 12 February 2021 that what is not mandatory is the inspection through a PMVIC, not the vehicle inspection itself.

As for several other issues pertaining to irregularities and corruption on the operation of PMVICs, we stipulate the following:

In the committee hearing, we already exhaustively explained that the alleged irregularities were actually operational deficiencies, to be viewed as birth pains of a new system that can be remedied immediately. The members of VICOAP have magnanimously submitted themselves to the committee in the most transparent manner, admitting the operational lapses, and how they plan to institute corrective measures. Further, they have been openly presenting their technology-driven system, and how its modern process with minimal human intervention, can eliminate or mitigate corrupt practices, which are now intrinsic in the old and inefficient emission testing system.

All documents requested from the DOTr were immediately submitted to the committee, including links to live stream video footages of the actual and real-time PMVIC accreditation process. These included the conduct of a coin toss in case of a tie, where there is a 50-50 probability for selection for each applicant. Surely, we cannot fix or corrupt the outcome of a coin toss done publicly.

In earlier interviews, Senator Poe likewise questioned the absence of a bidding process. Bidding is not required for projects which do not involve public fund such as the PMVIC program.

As to the charge of oligopoly or that certain parties were favored in the selection, the fact that the VICOAP exists, with more or less 60 different individuals as members, belie this misguided charge.

Above all, since the Senator stipulated what we could have done as an act of good faith, we most certainly stipulate to Good Faith as well.

We believe that good faith is akin to asking for clarification when one determines a document as obscure. It can be resolved in good faith through proper, open communication between the two parties, outside the specter of a media frenzy.

Good faith is respecting the decision of the President on a policy shift through the implementation of a program, and not insisting on an outright end of a process meant to significantly change a patently corrupt practice. The last time we checked, the DOTr and the LTO are in the Executive Branch of government, and we obey the lawful orders of our Chief Executive.

Good faith is when we all recognize the system of governance and the equal footing of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial, without having to impose or insist on a policy shift beyond the scope of our responsibility.

Good faith is when we mutually recognize and respect our respective mandate, such as the Executive recognizing the oversight function of Congress. Thus, we accede and accord the proper representation when required.

Good faith is when parties accord mutual and proper respect, and trust during proceedings, and not resorting later to public pronouncements and posturing that runs counter to what was achieved and agreed upon during the hearings, because of the need to pander to populist yet misguided sentiments.

The DOTr fully respects Senator Poe as a legislator. We do not dictate upon her on how to craft laws, nor even suggest to suspend the implementation of any law she principally authored. But, to insist on encroaching on our prerogative and function to implement a program or policy beneficial to the people is altogether a different matter.

We do hope that with the committee's zealousness to look into the PMVIC, it will demonstrate the same enthusiasm in scrutinizing the current system of PETCs, their proven gross deficiency and corrupt practices which we have been earnestly trying to reform. The PMVIC is the modern, technology-driven wellspring, and a vast improvement from the dubious and inefficient PETC.

We are also seeking clarification if the committee's direction is towards a complete elimination of a motor vehicle inspection system, which is grounded on existing laws of the land, and under the purview of the Executive branch.

We do hope and pray that the committee intends to enlighten our people on the value of a motor vehicle inspection, and how our government is moving forward to significantly improve the system.

With all due respect to the Senate Committee on Public Services, we remain most committed to a resolution that will be most acceptable and beneficial to all stakeholders, and still with the end view of upholding the best interest of the people and the nation.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Brandon Vera Shares Enlightening Experience on ‘The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition’

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera is among a handful of martial arts superstars to guest on upcoming reality television show, “The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition.”

The 43-year-old Filipino-American mixed martial arts veteran joined legendary fighters Georges St-Pierre, Renzo Gracie, and former ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben Askren, as well as high-profile CEOs from some of the world’s largest companies.

Vera, who is currently in Florida training alongside fellow athletes Aung La N Sang and Martin Nguyen at Sanford MMA, recalled his experience on ONE Championship’s version of the iconic TV franchise.

“It was very educational and refreshing not to have any pressure on me in front of the camera. I got to learn a lot from the candidates. I look forward to seeing ‘The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition,’” said Vera.

“It was an honor, an absolute privilege to be standing next to greatness both in the martial arts and business worlds.”

The show, based on the popular non-scripted television franchise, is a complete departure from the classic American version, and offers viewers an entirely new experience.

“The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition” invites 16 candidates hand-picked from around the world to participate in a series of business and physical challenges, as they compete for a US $250,000 job offer to work directly for ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong as his protege.

Vera, who was front and center to witness the candidates scrap and battle to reach the finale and ultimately win the competition, says viewers will be in awe of just how tough this version of “The Apprentice” truly was.

“I think the physical challenges for the candidates were something very unexpected. They were definitely not prepared even though they thought they were. It was very cool seeing some of them push beyond their limits, while some just fell apart,” said Vera.

Apart from being one of the most dominant world champions in ONE Championship, Vera is also an entrepreneur himself, owning several businesses including the Asian branch of renowned gym Alliance MMA. He, in particular, learned a lot from his time on “The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition.”

Vera described his experience working with guest CEOs such as Zoom’s Eric Yuan, Grab’s Anthony Tan, and Catcha Group’s Patrick Grove, among others.

“It was a combination of being nervous, because I didn’t want to miss anything, and being nervous to discover some of my thought processes to be incorrect. It was definitely a learning curve all the time, and I’m very blessed to have this opportunity over and over with ONE Championship,” said Vera.

“The Apprentice” is one of the biggest non-scripted reality television programs in history, judging the business skills of candidates who are competing for a job offer under a high-profile CEO. It has aired in more than 120 countries.

The first season of “The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition” consists of 13 episodes. It’s scheduled to premiere across Asia on Thursday, 18 March, on AXN, the show’s official Asian broadcast partner, followed by a global launch in June across broadcast and streaming platforms.

Having been witness to the candidates’ struggles, Vera learned exactly what it takes to be a contestant on the show, and has some advice for those wanting to join the show if it’s ordered for future seasons.

“[You need to be] someone who won’t break. Someone who knows how to take lead and set the example by doing. Someone who lives up to all of the values that ONE Championship stands for. That is what it will take to win ‘The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition,’” said Vera.

Vera is slated to make his return to the ONE Circle later this year to defend his ONE Heavyweight World Title, with a potential opponent being UFC veteran Arjan “Singh” Bhullar, although details of the bout have yet to be finalized or announced.

The 5 Camping Tent Tips You Need to Know

Wazzup Pilipinas!

If you’re going camping tent shopping, that probably means that you have an excursion in your future. Maybe you plan on taking the kids on an adventure to a national park. It could be that you’re not feeling that ambitious yet, and you’re taking your tent no further than the backyard.

Either way, there are some camping tent tips about which you should know. We’ve cultivated this list, and we’re passing our knowledge on to you. Consider each of these factors before you pull the trigger and purchase your next camping tent.

Select One that’s Easy for You to Set Up

As you look at camping tents, one of the first things you should think about is how easy to set up it is. If you’re camping in the backyard, it’s not such a big deal if you have an uncooperative tent. You can go back inside, study the directions some more, or even go online and look for some message boards. Maybe other individuals are running into the same problems that you are.

However, if you’re out in the wild, and night is falling, that tent is your shelter. Maybe you’re miles from your vehicle or any other human comforts, or perhaps it’s starting to rain. In that scenario, you’re going to want a tent that you can figure out how to construct relatively easily. 

Figure Out How Many People Can Fit Inside

If you’re going camping, and you have three people, plus a three-person tent, then you should be in good shape, right? Well, not necessarily.

It could be that you’ve got three individuals who are going on this trip. Maybe all three of you come from a larger family, and you know that the average tent won’t fit you.

If all of you try to cram into this one tent, you might be practically lying on top of each other. That’s not going to be very comfortable for you, and perhaps you’ll need to deal with it for multiple nights if this is a longer trip.

If you’re a larger person, and you know you’re going camping with some other sizeable individuals, you might go for a four or a six-person tent, even if there are just three of you.

Look at the Safety Features

If you’re going to be in an area with venomous snakes, ticks, or other wildlife that you’d prefer not to encounter up close, think about that as you look at the various tent models out there. You might look closely at the zipper and tent flaps.

Ideally, there should be a way for you to keep nature safely outside your tent. There might not be any tent that can save you from a rampaging grizzly bear attack. Still, you at least want one that can not just keep the elements off of you but which you can also zip up to keep most animals and insect invaders outside.

Try Setting Up the Tent and Getting Inside It Before You Leave

Returning to what we were saying before, you want to be sure that you can not only set up the tent while outdoors but also that everyone fits inside who’s going on the trip. When you’re out in nature and there’s no chance to go back is not the time to do that.

Once you get your tent, try setting it up in your living room or some other suitable place before you ever take it into the wild with you. That way, you can be sure that you can erect it with no issues. You can also all pile inside of it to see if you’re comfortable or whether you need a larger model.

See What Additional Tools You Need to Set It Up

What additional setup tools you need is one final aspect to keep in mind. Most tents do not require a lot of extra tools for you to set them up. You’ll probably need a mallet or a hammer to pound the tent stakes into the ground, but other than that, the tent should come with everything to get it ready for use.

If it doesn’t, look and see how many extra tools or what other paraphernalia the tent requires to set it up. You might have to carry all of that for several miles, and you don’t want all of it to weigh you down. The best tent is highly portable and doesn’t require lots of extra setup equipment.
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