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Tag: Thinking Beyond Politics

Inflation Jam

It is said that it takes at least five years to see either the benefits and/or the ill effects of a particular legislation. However, now that we are in an inflation jam, it only took six months to see the very negative effects from the imposition of more taxes.

Powering development through proper energy policies

Last week, consumer group CitizenWatch Philippines, in partnership with Stratbase ADR Institute, hosted an energy stakeholder’s forum entitled “Energy Outlook: Supplying Rising Demand at Lower Cost.” The forum aimed to provide different stakeholders in the power industry a conducive venue to tackle the key issues affecting the real cost of electricity in view of price fluctuations, market volatility and rising energy demand.

A regressive approach to the mining fiscal regime

Eight months since the first phase of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law was implemented, inflation hit a near-decade-high 6.4%, well beyond government forecasts and, more crucially, something that may upend years’ worth of significant economic growth.

Facing the Guns versus Butter Dilemma: Kilo Class Submarines for the...

The Philippine government, for the first time since 1946, released a national security strategy (NSS) doctrine in July 2018. Entitled “Security and Development for Transformational Change and Well-being for the Filipino People,” the 59-page NSS provides a realistic assessment of the Indo-Pacific region as marked by “increased uncertainty and unpredictability.” It identifies the rivalry of the major powers as the “most important (regional) strategic concern” and notes that the Philippines’ geography is both a source of strength and vulnerability as it provides a strong temptation to expansionist powers. Learning from the lesson of history, the NSS emphasizes the need to increase the size and capability of the Philippine Navy (PN) and the Philippine Air Force (PAF) as quickly as possible. This is to enable these two armed services to be country’s external deterrence in the face of an uncertain and potentially dangerous Indo-Pacific region.

The inflation fiasco: Scrambling to find the right solution

IN August, inflation clocked in at 6.4%, once again exceeding official targets and market expectations. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) projected inflation to be within 5.5% to 6.2%. Last month’s inflation also marked the highest increase in almost a decade. Month-on-month inflation also picked up to 0.9% in August from 0.5% in July, after it started losing its momentum in the last few months. For the first eight months of the year, inflation already averaged at 4.8 %, exceeding central bank’s upper end target of 4% for 2018.

Balancing price fluctuations, meeting the economy’s growing demand

THE inflation rate has made a considerable jump this year from 3.8% in January to 5.7% this July. This brings inflation beyond the upper end of the 2 to 4% target of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and already within the full-year forecast of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) at 4.5%.

Nationwide cancer control needs urgent legislative action

IN a show of force by the Philippine cancer patient community, representatives from over 150 cancer patient support groups and network organizations gathered recently to prioritize the passage of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act.

Civility in International Relations

States do not act in isolation from other states. As they attempt to achieve political and economic goals, it is foreign policy that keeps them interactive and engaged with regional and international actors. In so doing, some “rules,” both formal and informal, have emerged and developed and eventually became the way toward international relations.

China’s Stratagem in the Framework Negotiations for a Code of Conduct...

AFTER meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Singapore last week, the regional bloc and China announced a breakthrough in the drafting for the framework for a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, which would form the basis for future negotiations regarding an eventual COC.

Casting doubts on the integrity of a successful elections

Our nation had taken great strides towards the improvement of our elections by shifting to automation. Arguably, traditional modes of electoral cheating and electoral violence have been prevented and minimized since its implementation. This time, Philippine democracy has been given importance through the delivery of faster election results. We have reached the stage wherein we have finally adjusted from the horrors of manual counting, tallying, and canvassing that will only resurface the evils that our society relates too well -- electoral cheating and violence, where transitions of leaders will cause instability and questionable legitimacy.

What’s next after the TRAIN?

In what was a surprising deviation from his usual off-the-cuff remarks, President Duterte stuck to his script as he delivered his third State of the Nation Address (SONA). Echoing his economic managers, he fended off criticisms of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) and asserted that it has made funds available to build infrastructure and develop human capital. The President extolled the seven-month-old law, claiming that it is already helping poor families and senior citizens cope with rising prices. He added that the government has set aside P149 billion worth of subsidies this year, a figure that will increase by P20 billion by next year. He also enumerated measures that the government has rolled out so far, including unconditional cash transfers, discounts in gas stations, and fuel vouchers for public utility vehicles, without mentioning the delayed implementation of these social mitigating measures. As he closed his segment on tax reform, the President urged Congress to pass the succeeding tax proposals.

SONA’s health care agenda missed integrated cancer control

During the President’s third State of the Nation Address (SONA), he raised a number of issues, that span political and economic reforms.

Filipinos clamor to uphold the Arbitral ruling

As we commemorate the second anniversary of our nation’s victory in the Arbitral Tribunal, we reflect on how the Philippine government has used this landmark ruling to generate support from the international community and to uphold our claims over the West Philippine Sea.

What territory are you referring to President Xi?

During US Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s three-day visit to China, President Xi Jinping bluntly told the visiting American defense official: “Our stance is steadfast and clear-cut when it comes to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, we can’t lose even an inch of territory inherited from our ancestors, and China won`t take anything that belongs to others. Beijing has no colonial ambition but will never shy away from defending every each of its territory.”

PhilSys: One card to rule them all

It is only a matter of time before President Duterte signs into law the bill that will put citizens and aliens under a National Identification System, to be known as Philippine Identification System or PhilSys.

Digital transformation for Filipinos

Just last week, the National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Summit was held, with a good mix of participants from the public and private sectors.

Our Solid Waste Dilemma

After the intense summer heat, Typhoon Domeng ushered in the rainy season with the then seemingly benign effects given its projection of not making landfall. Perhaps, said storm was a welcome event as it cooled down the heat-weary homes, especially in urban centers.

Strategic initiatives from the private sector

The recent Shangri-La Dialogue which is an annual intergovernmental defense forum hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies was attended by 50 country delegates and ministers on the premise of building foundations for deeper security collaboration among the region’s policy makers.

Philippine Education: Points for further reform

Under a so-called “trifocalization” approach, the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), and, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) comprise the government’s education bureaucracy.

What Duterte should do in West Philippine Sea

Back in 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a public pledge not to “militarize” disputed land features in the South China Sea. Three years on, what we are witnessing is nothing short of “militarization on steroids” across the whole area.

Powering the manufacturing sector

During the first quarter of 2018, the industry sector was the fastest expanding supply-side growth driver, improving by 7.9% year on year. Manufacturing, in...

What ‘disputed waters?’

Just last week, May 6, Vice-President Leni Robredo issued a statement on China’s installation of missile systems in the West Philippine Sea. It is...

Nowhere but up? Dissecting inflation

While on the sidelines of the ADB Meeting last week, Socieconomic Secretary Ernesto Pernia announced that consumer prices rose by a five-year high of...

The ASEAN Bows to China

Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) wrapped up the 32nd summit on April 28 in Singapore, this year’s chairman. After half-a-century...

Will Singapore’s chairmanship arrest ASEAN’s strategic relegation?

Since 2010, the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have voiced their collective concern over the growing tension in the...

Marking one year of Build, Build, Build

During the Boao Forum held in China last week, President Duterte said that the country’s Build, Build, Build (BBB) program will provide the solid...

Pushing for an Open Data Law for Disaster Management

Recently, the Stratbase-ADR Institute hosted a multi-sectoral roundtable discussion on Dr. Mahar Lagmay’s Special Study, entitled: “Open Data Law for Climate Resiliency and Disaster...

National security as a common ground in mining

Last March 20, the Stratbase-ADR Institute held a special study presentation on a familiar topic -- mining. The angle examined, however, was peculiar compared...

The Special Australia-ASEAN Summit: Highlighting Australia’s significance as an Indo-Pacific Middle...

Middle powers have an interest in preserving the international order. They follow the leadership of a relevant great power, but they do so willingly...

A vote of confidence in the Philippines

Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) recorded an all-time high in President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s first full year in office, reaching $10 billion in 2017 and...

Developing government’s cybersecure culture

Cybersecurity in the Philippines remains in its infancy stage. Several initiatives to address cybersecurity concerns have been undertaken in the previous administrations, all of...

The new 21st Century ‘Great Game’ in East Asia

Prior to US President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017, East Asia was on edge, unsure of whether the Obama administration’s strategic pivot...

The Men on Horseback

As we commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the EDSA Revolution, it brings to the fore a prominent player in the Philippine political landscape: the...

A Federal Philippines: Does it make sense?

Part 2 Reflecting on the French Revolution, British Philosopher Edmund Burke warned against the dangers of radical change. For him, gradual reform is always preferable...

The bright side of TRAIN

A chorus of local and international economic analysts made a unanimous forecast for 2018: economic growth is expected to be faster than the 6.7%...

Continuing the Strategic Rebalance

The Trump administration’s early moves in East Asia unsettled America’s allies and friends. First, President Trump immediately announced the US withdrawal from the TPP. Second,...

Challenges ahead of the TRAIN

The paradox of the country’s tax system is not lost among our government officials. After all, the main catalyst behind the tax reform program...

Bumps and potholes on China’s Modern Silk Road

In 2013, President Xi Jin Ping proposed for the establishment of a comprehensive economic project that would cover large parts of the globe stretching...

The 2018 National Budget, Infrastructure, and Economic Growth

The government slogan “Build, build, build!” resonates for many, especially those who have some grounding on economic growth theories. In a serious attempt to...

Addressing the issues on open-pit mining

Last October, the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), recommended the lifting of the open-pit mining ban instituted by former DENR secretary Gina Lopez through...

The Battle for Marawi City and the Duterte administration’s defense policy

Prior to his inauguration on 30 June 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte was expected by many defense analysts and observers thought to follow former President...

Battling climate change

Last Dec. 12, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a climate summit, two years after the historic COP 21 Climate Change Agreement in Paris. Said...

Shopping for tanks

During the Battle of Marawi, many observers pointed to the lack of anything in the arsenal of the Philippine military that had the necessary...

Increasing the Mining Tax

One of the more recent pronouncements from Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu was a statement favoring an increase on...

Japan: The Philippines’ most reliable and important security partner

President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s state visit to Beijing in mid-October 2016 caused several analysts and observers to conclude that the Philippines had parted from...