Mayor Isko and FINEX

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Flor G. Tarriela-125


Happy New Year!

As 2020 is a leap year, we have 366 days of new ideas and opportunities. The Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines’ (FINEX) theme for the year is “2020 Vision: Leading the Way Toward World Class Philippine Business.”

In deference to the Taal Volcano eruption, a smaller dinner was held at Ilustrado in Intramuros for the FINEX induction led by incoming FINEX President Jeng Pascual who was also FINEX CFO of the Year in 2014. Also inducted were FINEX Foundation President Ebot Tan and FINEX Academy President Marivic Espano with their boards. Incoming FINEX board members are: Michael Arcatomy Guarin, Ador Abrogena, Antonio Ramon Ongsiako, Peter Wallace, Senen Matoto, Consuelo Garcia, Omar Cruz, Eusebio Tan, Stephanie Zulueta, Hilaria Concepcion, Benito Soliven III, Arleen May Guevara, Euney Marie Mata-Perez and Domingo Go. Also present were President Jeng’s family, Securities and Exchange Commissioner Kevin Lee and the inducting officer/speaker Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.

Mayor Isko said that in Manila, it’s back to basics. It is to clean Manila, make it safe and free from chaos. “Malinis, maaliwalas at panatag,” he said. He was very charming, obliged everyone with a picture and even selfies he took himself. FINEX was impressed with the results of what he has done and the plans he shared with us. Former Treasurer Omar Cruz said he studies and reads a lot and looks at best practices as benchmarks. BDO executive Ed Soriano kept saying what he has done is truly very impressive.

On ease of doing business, President Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered that business permits should take no more than three days. They follow this strictly in Manila. Business permits for new businesses are given in one day. How do they do it? The process is in “reverse.” New business permits are first given so they can already start hiring people and later revoked only if found not compliant. Francis Lim, who was in our table, commented it is similar to a “provisional permit.” On real estate and business tax, taxes should be paid online anywhere in the world with no human intervention by April 2020. The mayor admitted though that it wasn’t easy to do but everyone has to adapt to the changing times.


Mayor Isko intends to bring back the old glory of Manila. He started with Jones Bridge. And he was happy to announce the Metropolitan Theater will be opening its doors by May and thanked Cultural Center of the Philippines head Nick Lizaso and Department of Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo for their support. He also reminded us of the Escolta days when it was the prestigious office address. Looks like that’s next.

On cleaning Manila, it’s not just physical (even La Rue de la Div is clean now), but also Manila’s air. He intends to make Manila green, have more clean, open spaces, plant more trees and clean Manila’s air.

He is a marketing man and encouraged to bring business to Manila. He reported that business taxes collected by Manila doubled from P1.3 billion in January 2019 to P2.7 billion in January 2020. He also said Manila’s approved building permits reached P68 billion, so he expects more economic activity. More jobs, more business, more prosperity.

He also gave credit to the national government’s accomplishments, with sustained gross domestic product growth supported by low and stable inflation.

More power to Mayor Isko and his programs. As Domingo Go said in his introduciton, Mayor Isko has reached this position from very humble beginnings. And that’s why the Mayor said he will make sure he leaves a mark and make a difference, and “not just pass by.” And in everything he does, he puts God first.

What a great beginning for FINEX to hear from a doer and a role model. Manila is the capital and the window to the Philippines. Abundant blessings in 2020!


Flor Gozon Tarriela is chairman of the Philippine National Bank. She is a former undersecretary of Finance and the first Filipina vice -president of Citibank N.A. She is a Go Negosyo 2018 Woman Intrapreneur Awardee. She is a trustee of FINEX Foundation and FINEX Academy and an Institute of Corporate Directors fellow. Contact her at