“THOU shalt not take God’s name in vain.”

This biblical commandment somehow has led to the cropping since a few years ago of the common expression “Oh My God” to what it is now – the abbreviated “OMG!”

     But there is one acronym that sounds similar; only that it is seldom heard of these days. And in Mindanao, specifically in Davao City, people are bound not to hear of this acronym perhaps in their lifetime.

    OMB, or the Optical Media Board, is exactly what Davaoenos are asking about. Really, is there such an animal or government agency as the OMB existing in Davao City or Mindanao for that matter?

     This question is relevant in the light of the proliferation of counterfeit electronic gadgets and accessories, even medicines, in this southern metropolis.

     Yes, you name it, and you can find these counterfeits. From anti-biotics, viagra, music and film discs, software, garments, condoms, tires – even motorbikes. And sadly in Davao City these counterfeits, especially fake movie and music CDs and DVDs, are displayed boldly on the sidewalks of major thoroughfares. Adding insult to injuries legitimate establishments that can’t stop the traders of pirated gadgets and accessories do their things have “joined them” instead.

     From the grapevines we heard that there are local counterfeiters who have their copying machines for CDs and DVDs hidden in the dark rooms of houses located in blighted communities. Their operations are well-ensconsed with the protection given them by ambitious money hungry law enforcers.

     But these local pirates are also given a run for their money by well-organized syndicates bringing into the city pirated or counterfeit electronic gadgets and accessories from foreign suppliers most prominently mentioned those from Thailand and China.

     What is surprising though is that for the longest time we have not heard of any action made by the authorities to run after these pirates and their dealers and outlets. When was the last police action against pirated music and movie CDs and DVDs? That could be eons ago. But we remember there were efforts to flush out counterfeit software being used by business establishments also several years ago. However, those were initiatives of manufacturers of the original software, not by the regulatory authorities like the OMB or any of its deputized agency.

     Again we go back to the question, Is there an arm of the OMB operating in Davao City and other cities outside the National Capital Region? Or, if it does not have any, has the OMB deputized any law enforcement unit like the police, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), or the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to do their job in areas it does no have presence?

     Our observation though, indicates that there is no OMB presence in Davao or any effort to deputize or authorize other law enforcement groups to undertake the said office’s primary responsibility.

     The existence of open displays of pirated music and movie CDs and DVDs, and the availability of counterfeit software, gadgets, video games that are downloadable at one’s convenience are more than enough proof that OMB only has its arms in Metro Manila. And oftentimes these arms are even decapitated by the lack of teeth of government laws against counterfeiting.

     Besides, these days people seem to patronize pirated gadgets and accessories because not only that these are much lower in cost, the products have become so expertly crafted. The counterfeiters are now overly skilled that it is already extremely difficult to detect the pirated from the genuine. And if ever there are low quality counterfeits bought by customers they would hardly bother to complain. First they can return the merchandise and have it changed. Second, the cost is so low they can afford to forget about it and just buy another one.

     But then again, what is the OMB there for? To help government control the downslide of the country’s economy due to the influx of pirated merchandise the manufacturers and traders of which are not paying any tax at all. And now that even legitimate establishments are already into it, what else is left for the government – local and national?



     As we were about to end writing this piece we received a letter from Retired Police Col. Dionesio C. Abude, Officer-in-Charge of the City Transport and Traffic Management Office. The letter is an invitation for us to attend a forum on drivers’ education program that his office is conducting.

     This is trademark Abude service. We congratulate the outstanding policeman for his initiative. This education program for public utility vehicle drivers is very relevant at this time when the city is already experiencing a massive development growth resulting to the increase in the number of vehicles plying the city roads.


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