PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Sunday reiterated his support for Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, while also suggesting that Mr. Dominguez was ultimately responsible for the effects of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
“I pray that we will improve our situation with Sonny Dominguez there driving his own train,” Mr. Duterte said in a televised speech during the birthday and thanksgiving party of former foreign affairs secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano in Davao City on Sunday night.
He added that many are “crying” about the tax reform law but that he stood by Mr. Dominguez, a friend from childhood.
“(A)ng train mo [Mr. Dominguez], maraming umiiyak,” Mr. Duterte said. “I believe in you. (I have said that) I stand by him, I have known him since childhood, he is a very good friend and he can do wonders for the country.”
In a speech last week, Mr. Duterte noted that rising world oil prices are mainly the reason for high inflation.
“We do not have the buffer (for oil price volatility). We do not have a reserve that we can (tap). We do not have that luxury. And that is why inflation is very high,” Mr. Duterte said.
The President said the main factor driving world oil prices is the attempt by the United States to isolate Iran economically and diplomatically.
“You can crucify me if you want. Behead me if you want in public. I cannot do anything about the oil. And it’s getting worse because Iran is about again to make a surprise move simply because [United States President Donald J.] Trump does not like Iran,” he said.
He suggested that it is not the Philippines’ fight but it is nevertheless feeling the impact — “Damay tayo.”
He expressed the hope that an oil exploration agreement with an Israeli company bears fruit “even beyond my term” noting that a successful discovery would give Filipinos “a break.”
In a statement on Sunday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said: “For the time being, the government has decisively acted to tame inflation. Our people are beginning to feel the effects with the price of rice starting to go down, and just yesterday, the Suggested Retail Price (SRP) program and prescribed labelling for milled rice have been launched by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry to protect consumers from profiteers.” — Arjay L. Balinbin