Defining Ricafort

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    IT’S THE end of October, the supposed-to-be end-of-day for the the top tenant of the Clark Development Corp. Didn’t Malacanang say in July yet that appointive officials of government-owned and –controlled corporations were tenured until the end of October?

    So what has Benigno N. Ricafort to show for his watch at the CDC?

    As the then booming duty-free shops were to Tito Henson; the massive infra development including the Expo Filipino and the Sacobia Bridge, the maiden Hongkong-Clark flight, to Romy David; the Mimosa Estate take-over by the CDC to Rufo Colayco;  SM City Clark and Bayanihan Park to Manny Angeles; Texas Instruments to Tony Ng; the central business district on civic aviation grounds – a brilliant idea shot down by President GMA herself – to Levy Laus, so what event, project or investment would best define the Ricafort presidency?

    Unkindly now, Ricafort may well be best remembered not for any investment-generating prowess, the mind taxed to tediousness thinking of any investment of worth that came to the Clark Freeport through Ricafort. But for the social welfare programs of a non-government organization woven with, and later subsumed to, nay, assumed as the CDC’s own corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.

    Ricafort, being both president-CEO of CDC and president of the Kapampangan Development Foundation (KDF), in effect wears two hats, not in but as one.

    How? One on top of the other. See how the KDF’s accomplishments find ample space in the CDC publications and body of press releases. Why, they get more column inches in the local newspapers than purely CDC accomplishments – maybe, just maybe, KDF’s are higher in quality and heavier in quantity than CDC’s.

    Why, only last week, photos of Ricafort with the KDF executive officer Sylvia Munoz beaming beatific smiles at two kids getting artificial legs were splashed in the local papers.

    The following day, appeared in the papers stories about the same activity portrayed in the earlier photos, to wit:

    Pursuant to the KDF’s “Walking Free Pampanga” program, new sets of prosthesis (artificial legs) were distributed to 11 disabled indigent Kapampangans. This, even as 18 other potential beneficiaries were measured (for artificial legs).  

    Ricafort, so the story went, reported that the KDF has already served close to 500 amputees from the province since the start of its program. When? The story did not say though.

    A needless detail, given the nobility of KDF’s purpose, as per Ricafort: “This is one of our continuing advocacies and we hope to cater to more amputees as weeks progress. Prosthesis is currently assembled here at our laboratory at the Clark Polytechnic through the generous help of our supporters and partner organizations.”

    Now, were generating investments at the Clark Freeport as continuing, if not pressing, advocacies to Ricafort, he could have had a sound economic  legacy for Clark as great as the KDF charity…

    But aren’t we conveniently forgetting something creditable to Ricafort here? How about the Next Frontier project drumbeaten to ear-splitting decibels at its launch sometime in…So who cares to remember?

    Yeah, just about the only project attributed to the Next Frontier was that Ricafort signed with Philippine Tourism Authority head Mark Lapid carving a mountainside to be transformed into a wakeboarding paradise ala Cam Sur.

    It turned out the dogs of the Aetas living in the PTA-leased area had more brains than the project proponents, howling as they did at the prospect of utter degradation to the environment wakeboarding by the mountainside would caused. Not to mention the grave danger to lives and property – the highest probability of an Ormoc tragedy clear and present there.

    The Next Frontier proved to be Ricafort’s undoing, the bridge leading to it breaking the CDC bank, so to speak when the private contractor, Ciriaco Corp. and the Philippine National Construction Corp. that built it won their case seeking full payment, moving banks to garnish CDC’s P214-million assets.

    Ah, the things that define Ricafort’s CDC presidency!        


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