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Questions on TRAIN 2 a.k.a. TRABAHO

When the inflation rate of 6.4% for August was finally announced by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) last week, there was a storm of fears that lashed stronger than the most powerful typhoon of the season (Signal No. 4), “Ompong” that trashed northern Philippines and rained heavily the whole weekend on the rest of Luzon.

Can amnesty be revoked?

IN martial law, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos could do anything. And he focused on the military to help him do anything.

Available rice for tolerable poverty

Mang Pedro, temporary construction helper, married, father of three, could not even afford the P38-lunch sold on the sidewalk. He squatted in a corner, away from the other workers boisterously competing for the bigger slices and the more generous-looking rice portions of Aling Rosa’s food. He carefully opened his “baon” (packed lunch). It was plain boiled white rice — but twice the quantity of Aling Rosa’s serving. No viand. Over the rice, he squeezed the ketchup from the frayed foil packet that he picked up from a fast food outlet.

What does ‘move on’ really mean?

SYNTAX and grammar insinuate that “move on” is a verb in the imperative mood (a command), which is why there is a frightening ocean of meaning that separates the speaker from the spoken-to, by the very utterance of this. “Move on” is best just a resolution to be whispered to oneself as one would acknowledge one’s own wrong choices or actions, and plan what to do next. But it is an arrogant breach of personal boundaries when someone else tells another to “Move on,” especially if that other has been the victim of that someone who has caused pain and loss. It is the brutal last kick in the dust. It reeks too much of the despotic commands of oppressive martial law.

A play for the budget

“What’s the play?” In Filipino-speak, “Ano ang laro?” It means there’s a lot of double-speak, so to try to understand, one will have to analyze actions versus words and ask the question heavily laden with negative connotations -- what’s the hidden game plan?

Doubts on federalism

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III met with some members of the Consultative Commission (ConCom) on the government’s proposed change to federalism. He asked, “Who is going to pay for the national debt? Who is going to pay for the military? Who is going to pay for the [Department of Foreign Affairs] and the central bank? I mean if it needs additional capital, who is going to put it up?” (philstar.com Aug. 7, 2018). And the ConCom’s response was, “the sharing with the local governments or the states will be after those expenses” (Ibid.).

The legislative agenda for business

President Rodrigo Duterte at his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23 urged lawmakers to pass Package 2 of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, while firmly saying no to proposals to reverse TRAIN Package 1 amid the high inflation rate recorded for the country this year (philstar.com July 26, 2018).

Inflation and the regions

President Rodrigo Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address (SONA) was so boringly bereft of his usual colorful language and blitzkrieg declarations, but not at all uneventful. In the hour-and-a-half waiting for the SONA, Filipinos were watching live, the daring coup on the House floor that ousted House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and instantly installed Gloria Arroyo as the new House Speaker by 184 votes and 12 abstentions (philstar.com July 23, 2018).

A leader’s responsibility with words

It was the first-ever formal one-on-one summit between a US President, Donald Trump, and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, held July 16 in Helsinki. At the joint news conference afterward, the final question from the US went to Jonathan Lemire from the AP (www.washingtonpost.com, July 16, 2018, transcript courtesy of Bloomberg Government):

Is there an Imperial Manila?

Is there an Imperial Manila? It sounds traitorous to call Manila “Imperial,” as if Manila were not Filipino but a state apart, like the foreign imperial colonizers that Filipinos -- united as a people -- fought against to win independence and recognition as one country and one nation.

Not in the doldrums

How can President Rodrigo Duterte announce to his country and his people (and to world investors and creditors) that, “Now. The economy is in the doldrums. Actually -- now.” (Philippine Daily Inquirer [PDI] June 24, 2018) He then rants on his version of economic dynamics: “Interest rates are picking up, are getting high so it destroys the present (economic gains)...you raise your (interest rate), our (peso value) goes down, theoretically...” Mr. Duterte said at a speech at the SMX Center Communications Summit 2018 (Ibid.).

Blasphemy and persecution

“Bless me, Father for I have sinned. But I do not know if I have sinned, Father,” I whispered hoarsely, in the confessional.

Trust a key factor in business (and in everything else)

“There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world -- one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love. On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life. Yet, it is the least understood, most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time. That one thing is trust.” -- Stephen M.R. Covey The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything (2008).

The widow’s mite

“Where can I place my P100,000 funds?” What are the investment options for a risk-averse widow, in this time of rising inflation? “Since you do not trust equities or corporate bonds, and not even the managed pooled funds, perhaps the only easily withdrawable and guaranteed (insured) placement would be a time deposit in our bank,” the account officer sheepishly offered. “And how much interest will the bank pay me?” The account officer was definitely embarrassed to say, “0.88%, Ma’am, or P704 net of 20% final withholding tax, for 360 days.”

‘Kiss muna’ and the Altar of Secrets

“Kiss muna,” he said, pointing to his puckered lips. “Give me a kiss first” and the many similar sexual innuendoes like it, are a most precise and succinct precondition that a lecherous man in a position of ascendancy and superior power and influence would lay on a woman depending on some outcome beneficial to her, through his beneficence.

Conflict of interest in positions of trust

The Corporation Code of the Philippines, Section 32 concerns with the “Dealings of directors, trustees or officers with the corporation”.

All mine to give: property rights

Last week, Acting Chief Justice Antonio T. Carpio reiterated with even more indignant passion that the Philippine government should not give up rights in...

On inflation: Let them eat cake

“Let them eat cake” was supposedly uttered by Queen Marie Antoinette when the peasants stormed the Bastille, asking for bread for their hunger, in...

Quo vadis post Quo Warranto

Perhaps “quo warranto” will now be recalled by the name Maria Lourdes Sereno, the first Chief Justice removed from office by it. The Office...

Expectations on contractualization

On Labor Day, May 1, President Duterte finally released Executive Order 51 stopping illegal contractualization, as he warned firms involved in the practice that...

North and South Korea: Blood brothers

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea met on April 27 in Panmunjom in the center of the heavily...

Tax amnesty: Thy sins are forgiven thee

Thy sins are forgiven Thee. But first you must make a deep and sincere confession, as in the Catholic sacrament of Reconciliation. That is...

Of pit bulls and puppy dogs

Now the derogatory label “Pit bull” is perhaps known and used more for humans who are perceived to have the manifest aggressive attack-temperament of...

Grab grabs Uber

Uber is over. Could even the motu propio review by the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) on April 2 of the acquisition by Grab Holdings, Inc....

Faith, hope, and love in Easter

The Swedish actor Max von Sydow played Jesus in the 1965 film The Greatest Story Ever Told. He was unknown in US movies at...

Some questions on the Panda bonds

In 2005 the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) issued the first “Panda” bonds -- “a Chinese renminbi-denominated bond from...

The richest man in the Philippines

He always sat in front of the cash register. “Cabisé, wala bang size 4, children’s, nito (don’t you have size 4, children’s, of this...

HBO for government

Human Behavior in Organization (HBO) has always been a foundation subject in Business Administration courses. At the University of the Philippines (UP) Virata School...

Barriers to entry for the third telecom

Mobile phone subscriptions have reportedly reached 119 million when the total population is at 101 million, meaning a 117% penetration rate (many people have...

The People Power that was

Feb. 25, 2018 was a public holiday. No big deal, it was a Sunday anyway. It has been 32 years since People Power wrested...

Again, the political dynasties issue

Again we listen, learn, and then wait for something to come out of those televised goings-on in the Legislature. At the Senate hearing last week...

Merger proposals

Merger proposals, or marriage proposals by some Freudian slip: some are a good match, some are not. Or maybe we just don’t know well...

Fake news: up close and personal

It was only a few days after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) en banc found “Rappler, Inc., and Rappler Holdings Corporation, a mass...

Globalization and scarcity

A physicist, a chemist and an economist are stranded on an island, with nothing to eat. A can of soup washes ashore. The physicist says,...

What is a PDR?

What is a PDR -- this strange acronym for what has kicked at the shin, the 1987 Constitution Section 11, Article XVI that insists,...

World economic federalism and nation-state federalism

There is no clear and commonly used definition, no settled common denominator of “federalism,” according to Dr. Anna Gamper (Associate Professor, University of Innsbruck)....

Ang Larawan ng 2018

In the sepia haze, muted rays of suspended light paint a grisaille of the old Marasigan mansion in Intramuros. Bitoy Camacho remembers how it...

Separation of powers in political practicum

Separation of Powers is not adhered to in Constitutional Law solely by virtue of its force as doctrine… It provides the structure for Limited...

Kings over Jerusalem

Herod the Great was named by the Senate as “King of the Jews,” with a tacit order for him to control the Jews, who...

The board and the SC en banc

Isn’t it just like a corporate Board of Directors, this en banc of the 15 Supreme Court Justices that must have a collegial decision...

Advice to writers

“I’m not scared,” she said, her eyes flashing as she thumped her hand on the desk in her office. The people she investigates “are...

The Remains of the Day: A literary review for the global...

Kazuo Ishiguro was in his kitchen writing e-mail when the phone rang. The Swedish Academy notified the surprised Ishiguro that he had won the...

Family matters at the ASEAN Business Summit

We are in the Solaire Resort and Casino, on Aseana Avenue just beyond Roxas Boulevard on the reclaimed coast of Manila Bay. Banish any...

Conflicts of interest at SSS

As if the Social Security System (SSS) was not in enough controversy. And now the most recent issue is that of alleged conflict of...

Rejecting foreign aid

It was coming. With President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s well-known distaste for the European Union (EU) and its unsolicited advice on human rights violations in...