Ariel Nepomuceno

82 posts
Ariel Nepomuceno is the deputy commissioner for the enforcement group of the Bureau of Customs.

A tale of two Koreas: When two become one

Hand in hand and coupled with a hug, the two leaders of North and South Korea—Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in—discussed the world’s elusive dream of putting an end to the long-drawn Korean War that started in the 1950s. In 1953 an armistice delivered a cease-fire to the Korean War but the absence of a peace treaty did not help in bringing an official conclusion to the conflict.

‘Toys R Us’

One by one, many iconic companies who once dominated the global market fall. Those who survive, for the moment at least, are desperately reconfiguring their long-term strategies in order to resist the onslaught of competitors who ride on the digital platforms which provided a now proven game- changing power that disrupted many industries. One casualty, to the dismay of many children, parents and grandparents is Toys R Us. This toy-retailing giant is a victim in the fast-changing global business environment.

Fair competition for a fair and free market

Massimo Motta, in his book entitled Competition Policy Theory and Practice, mentioned that the main objective of competition policy as enforced by the European Commission are probably economic efficiency and European market integration. He stated that the first purpose of such policy is the maintenance of competitive markets.

True competition for a better economy

IN 2015 the Philippine Competition law (PCL) was passed prohibiting abuse of dominant position, anticompetitive agreements, mergers and acquisitions. This piece of law does not outlaw dominance in the market or monopolies per se. What it proscribes are price fixing, division or sharing of geographical markets, limiting or controlling production, markets or investment and bid rigging.

A pre-Sona high for the President

Hailed and appreciated before his State of the Nation Address (Sona), President Duterte’s superior showing in recent surveys conducted by both Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations signifies that his administration has touched a lot of Filipino lives in those aspects that mean to them. He earned a net satisfaction score of +66 higher that his score of +63 in March 2017. An impressive 78 percent of about 1,200 respondents throughout the nation are satisfied with his performance, with just 12 percent dissatisfied and 10 percent uncertain. His overwhelming support came from Classes D and E with +66 and +67, respectively. Interestingly, the President garnered an increase of 3-percentage points from Class ABC. On the other hand, Pulse Asia results demonstrated an approval rating of 82 percent for him, and most of the adulation came from the National Capital Region. Overall, a sensational trust rating for the administration, which included Senate President Aquilino L. Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, with 62 percent and 43 percent, respectively.

Why martial law for Mindanao?

Done in the Russian Federation on May 23, Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, on behalf of President Duterte, declared a state of martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao via Proclamation 216.

The world at cyber war 

Amid the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, the rising tension between the United States of America and China over the issue on freedom of navigation at the South China Sea and the raging war on terror against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Syria and Iran, there is another kind of war now raging globally where control and dominance at the front are not measured in terms of military power, but on computer wizardry.

Lawyering for the rule of law

On May 22 about 3,747 individuals who passed the 2016 Bar exams took their oaths as new lawyers. A total of 6,924 applied for the examinations, but after vetting by the Supreme Court, only 6,831 were allowed to take it. The passing rate last year was actually the second highest at 59.06 percent, compared to the 1954 exams, which delivered 75.17 percent.

Contractualization and security of tenure: Truths and falsities

WORKERS, young and old, organized and unorganized, woke up on March 16 and found out that Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III finally issued Department Order (DO) 174, which totally bans labor-only contracting, halting “end of contract regimes” and providing mechanisms to strictly regulate various contractual arrangements. This latest issuance by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) was reached after intensive and heated discussions and consultations with both labor and management sector. The issue is very critical, given that the Philippine Statistics Authority, in a fairly recent survey, advised that more than 1/3 in companies employing 20 people are, in fact, temporary workers.

Fire knows no mercy

IT is far better to get robbed several times than to fall victim to fire even once, goes the old saying. And for the families who lost lives and properties in the reported 259 cases of fire in the National Capital Region alone, the wretched char that this reality has left in their scarred beings will leave them damaged for a long time. The scent of burning flesh and the memory of homes—built with love through blood, sweat and tears—being reduced to ashes will not be easily forgotten. The suffocating smoke and the last embers might have been put out for good, but they will only be remembered for evil.

The Church in our political life

Our Constitution enshrines the inviolability of the separation of Church and State, and reinforces the principle by further stipulating that no law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting its free exercise. On the other hand, Mark 12:17 mentions that one must “pay to the emperor what belongs to the emperor, and pay to God what belongs to God”.

Much ado about mining

ariel nepomuceno_1The mining industry and its ardent supporters have been hugging the headlines for already three weeks, and the murmurs, jitters and speculations have not ceased as of yet. The center of all these discussions in the press and social media has been the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’s (DENR) controversial decision to shut down the operations of 23 metallic mines and the suspension of five other mining outfits for alleged violations of prevailing environmental laws. It has become so caustic that the appointment of Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez is now being opposed by big mining companies and supportive stakeholders who vouch for the industry’s contributions to the nation’s economic well-being.

Braving the Brexit blues

ariel nepomuceno_1ON June 24, 2016, the world was shocked and a bloodbath at the global stock market occurred when the Britons, after intense campaigning waged by both the leavers and those who wish to remain, voted to get out of the European Union (EU).

Philippine foreign policy: From mendicancy to independence?

ariel nepomuceno_1During the 1951 University of the Philippines graduation ceremonies, eminent statesman, lawyer and poet Claro M. Recto delivered a speech essentially characterizing our foreign policy as one dependent on powerful foreign powers, particularly the United States. He eloquently lambasted the country’s willingness to be used by the US for its own military and economic interests and, in the process, losing its identity, thereby earning the disrespect of other nations. This gripping speech, entitled “Our Mendicant Foreign Policy,” has become a must read for politicians, historians, scholars and students who are all participants in the quest for the Philippines to achieve the dream of true independence.

Live and let die?

ariel nepomuceno_1During the height of the presidential election campaign, President Duterte firmly declared his intention to revive the death penalty if elected. He promised to end the increasing violence caused by the drug problems, crimes and acts of terrorism.

Truth or consequence in media

ariel nepomuceno_1We all know the drill: There is a guaranteed consequence for not telling the truth. We have learned this early on in the popular parlor game that has kept us entertained at parties and get-togethers during our younger years. And even back then, there were occasions when we intentionally opted for the consequence, no matter how ridiculously difficult it was, because truth has its way of making us uncomfortable.

On the wings of progress

ariel nepomuceno_1Never more to being the worst airport in the world! This appears to be the new rallying call of our government in the light of the marked improvement in the ranking of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) on the list of the latest 2016 survey conducted by the travel web site “The Guide to Sleeping in Airports.” From occupying the fourth place in the same survey in 2014, the Naia failed to capture a spot in the top 10. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia landed first; then Juba, Sudan; Port Harcourt, Nigeria; Tashkent, Uzbekistan; and Santorini, Greece, got the second to fifth slots.

The writ of freedom

THE drug problem of this country is so massive and persistent that President Duterte said the widespread lawlessness and violence brought about by it may lead to a possible suspension of the writ of habeas corpus as a safeguard to protect the people.

Why kill the goose that lays golden eggs?

ariel nepomuceno_1‘With 7,000 tropical islands on my doorstep, all ripe for exploration, I find it easy to like the Philippines. Love, on the other hand, is borne of subtler things. Love is borne of long rooftop jeepney rides through the mountains of North Luzon; of a frosty San Miguel at sundown on a sublime slab of Visayan sand; of a fresh-fish lunch, followed by a siesta on an interminable banca journey through Palawan’s islands; of friends with names like Bing and Bong; of phrases like “comfort room”; of—dare I say it—karaoke. Now that is love.”

‘Dili man ko love nimo, Daddy!’

ariel nepomuceno_1Those were not exactly the most endearing words of goodbye, but for a 5-year-old girl who would be left behind by her father who was departing for work in Maldives, oceans away from home, those six words succinctly painted the pain in her young heart.

Debilitating sports through politics

ariel nepomuceno_1Following his recent impressive world welterweight-title victory over Jessie Vargas, fighting Sen. Manny Pacquiao demonstrated he still has the mighty punch despite a dramatic loss to Mayweather in their 2015 fight. This win restored Pacquiao to the boxing world’s pound-for-pound rankings.

Guide the tourists

ariel nepomuceno_1Next to the departments of Foreign Affairs and National Defense, perhaps the tourism department is the most challenged government agency today because of the possible wrong global appreciation of the ongoing war on drugs being relentlessly waged by our government.

Are you ready for the ‘Big One’?

ariel nepomuceno_1‘YOU fall to the ground, unable to keep standing. You hear a booming sound. You hear screams from people inside their homes. You hear breaking glasses. Telephone and power poles sway violently. Then the power goes off. In front of you, the village road is heaving, as if you are riding waves. The strong ground shaking goes on for 50 seconds. It is the longest 50 seconds of your life.”

Demystifying the state of lawlessness

ariel nepomuceno_1Last September 2 a night market in Davao City was bombed, killing 14 people and injuring 71 others, angering the general populace and most especially President Duterte. Visibly affected by the violence and tragedy, our Chief Executive declared a nationwide state of lawlessness.

Federalism 101: Positives and pitfalls

ariel nepomuceno_1The basic definition of federalism makes reference to a mixed form of government where there is a central government and side by side, regional governments, such as provinces or states, in one political infrastructure or system. It is dual sovereignty in action.

Reality check

ariel nepomuceno_1The ultimate dilemma of our present government is the fact that we are confronted with many problems that cannot be resolved in six years. Strong political will nor sincerity would not be enough to alter the consequences of gross mismanagement committed by some of our leaders and the fundamental weaknesses in the structure of our politics.

Solution to the traffic chaos

ariel nepomuceno_1The daily traffic congestion in Metro Manila results to huge opportunity losses, wasted productive time, extreme stress, smog, punctuality becoming a forgotten virtue and, in some instances, road rage.  In an attempt to cure this chaos, we have consistently emphasized that we only need to instill discipline among drivers and for traffic enforcers to diligently do their job.

For a well-informed and empowered citizenry

ariel nepomuceno_1On July 23, 2016, the President signed Executive Order (EO) 2 (Series 2016), operationalizing in the Executive branch the people’s constitutional right to information and the state policies of full public disclosure and transparency in the public service. The EO recognizes the fundamental role of a free and open exchange of information in a democracy, meant to enhance transparency and accountability in government official acts, transactions or decisions.

Trampled upon by Trump

ariel nepomuceno_1IN a typical tyrannical speech, United States Presidential candidate Donald Trump recently chose to articulate the bottom line of his immigration policy by branding immigrants as “animals and refugees from terrorist nations.” He proposed that they be barred from entry to the land of promise. The main rationale is the difficulty of vetting who are terrorists and who are not.

The trouble with doing business in the Philippines

ariel nepomuceno_1In the inaugural speech by our President, he ordered all his department secretaries and heads of agencies to refrain from changing the rules, contracts and projects that were already approved previously. He also emphasized the need to reduce the requirements and the processing of all applications from submission to release. The President mandated the removal of all redundant requirements and that the compliance with one department shall be accepted as sufficient for all.

The survey says…

ariel nepomuceno_1FOUR days to go and we will give all the candidates the mandate they are seeking. Our vote is so precious that each one of those vying for key positions in government are closely following, monitoring and analyzing the results of every single election survey there is. Why all this overwhelming concern about what these surveys produce? What gives?

Antimoney laundering and bank secrecy: The nuances

ariel nepomuceno_1The heated discussions during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing regarding the $81 million that was allegedly stolen from the Bangladesh Bank and the movements of such amounts into our financial system raised a lot of questions about the integrity and stability of our banking institutions and all the network of relationships that go with it.

Money laundering: The hows and whys

ariel nepomuceno_1THE ongoing senate investigation together with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) search for the truth behind recent events of alleged money-laundering activities in a major bank highlights the need for more awareness about the importance of proscribing and stopping money laundering.

Debating to get to Malacañang: Effective or not?

ariel nepomuceno_1THE big viewership, together with the huge, enthusiastic interest of the public in the performance of the candidates in the Comelec-sponsored presidential debates on February 21 in Cagayan de Oro, reinvigorated a discussion on the issue of whether the debates can make a real difference in the probability of success of each aspirant to capture Malacañang.

Elections and Edsa I: Focus on poverty

ariel nepomuceno_1OURS is a country where highly skilled hardworking masons and carpenters have no decent homes. Chefs and servers are mostly deprived of enjoying great food on their own tables at home. Farmers and agricultural workers worry on what to have for their next meal.  Teachers yearn for better education. And government workers   hope that their children will join the private sector instead of continuing their noble sacrifice of serving the public.

2016 elections: What matters most

ariel nepomuceno_1That the upcoming democratic exercise in May will spell the difference in our nation’s life is no longer open to question. The campaign period has started and the fever is on. TV, radio and social media are replete with images, songs, slogans and buzzwords propagating each candidate’s avowed program of action for the country and constituents.

Painful remnants of World War II

ariel nepomuceno_1EMPEROR Akihito and Empress Michiko charmed their way into the hearts of the Filipinos when they visited the country just last week to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Filipino-Japanese relations. Dignified, simple and gentle were the ways of the royal couple as the country watched them pay their respects to Filipinos who waged their lives in World War II at the Heroes’ Cemetery. Historical statistics reveal that more than 1 million Filipinos and around half-a-million Japanese perished in this war.

Petro price dips: Boon or bane?

ariel nepomuceno_1FOR three straight weeks, the prices of diesel, kerosene and gasoline have been reduced on an average of P3.20 per liter for diesel, P3.30 per liter for kerosene and P1.60 per liter for gasoline. The reason? Oversupply in the international market.

Spending big for the mandate

ariel nepomuceno_1Very recent results from election-spending research done by Nielsen Philippines reveal that from November 30, 2015 to January 1, 2016, our presidential candidates coughed out nearly P1.6 billion on television advertisements in 2015. And we are just talking about TV here. And the race has just started. Nothing yet about other media forms, publicity gimmicks, provincial sorties and other campaign-related activities. And three more months to go.

BBL: A missed opportunity for peace in the South

ariel nepomuceno_1THE decades-long insurgency and lawlessness in Muslim Mindanao is a consequence of our colonial history, which divided the Filipino people on the basis of religion, political and economic stature. The great divide between the Christians and Muslims have also been conveniently used by our former colonial masters and subsequent governments to legitimize the concentration of power, influence and wealth in a few who make up the ruling elite in the country.

Resolutions for a nation’s new year

ariel nepomuceno_1EVERY time January comes, not only do we look forward to the media noche feast or the fun of watching the glittering fireworks that color our skies. It is also a time for self reflection, a review of the year that has gone by, and, more important, an opportunity to identify aspirations; map out future plans; and commit to make positive changes in our lives.

The presidency and authenticity: The limits

ariel nepomuceno_1WITH the ever-growing challenges confronting this country and in anticipation of next year’s election, Filipinos are now talking, debating, analyzing and, sometimes, fighting about who should be our next president. From corporate board rooms, coffee shops, bars and even the commonplace tambayan by the sari-sari store, more and more banter on the fate of the presidency is now occurring.  Still four months to go but democracy in action is at its finest right here and right now.

Apec: Global synergy in action

ariel nepomuceno_1IN 1989 the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) was formed among member-nations to serve as a forum to discuss free trade, market liberalization and promotion of investment and economic integration.  Since it is considered a post-Cold War reaction to the proliferation of trading blocs in various regions around the globe, the US and other developed countries played a central role in supporting its growth as an organization.

CSR: From philanthropy to real social change

ariel nepomuceno_1RENOWNED economist Milton Friedman would never have imagined that acceptable returns on shareholders’ investment would remain to be the only measure for assessing a corporation’s success because for him there is only one responsibility of business—to utilize its resources and perform activities designed to boost profits so long as it follows the rules of the market without fraud or deceit.

Good corporate governance and the bottom line

ariel nepomuceno_1RECENT scandals and reputation nightmares have led to the fall of big and renowned companies like Enron, Tyco, One Tel. No one could ever imagine that companies of this stature could collapse because of the misdeeds, unethical or negligent behavior of its directors and corporate officers.

The rule of law: A magnet for foreign investment

ariel nepomuceno_1WHAT particular characteristics of a country does a foreign investor consider important in deciding whether to invest? Vital but not enough is a good financial and sociopolitical climate for such a major undertaking.  Financials would pertain to a fair and reasonable rate of return on investment, current tax regimes and the ability to repatriate profits and other incentives being provided.

Sept. 21, 1972:  Revisiting a dark memory

ariel nepomuceno_1UNTIL today, the intense debates on how Presidential Proclamation 1081 affected the lives of millions of Filipinos have not ceased.  Akin to a love relationship, some would say there can never be a closure until the vast majority of our population realize the truth on how this particular episode in our history impacted our hearts and minds.

Competition means good business

ariel nepomuceno_1Just recently, our President signed the Philippine Competition law (PCL), or Republic Act 10667. It is considered a landmark legislation for a country that waited more than 20 years for its passage. This new legislation sends a clear and loud message to the international investment community that, indeed, the Philippines is more than ready to level the business playing field and is open for businesses who are eager to compete fairly and ethically.

The giant is sick

ariel nepomuceno_1THE very recent devaluation by China of its currency, making the yuan  weaker by at least 2 percent against the US dollar, sent shockwaves to the global financial markets and continuously threatens emerging and developing  economies.  The change in the yuan policy also has an immediate political effect, as China is considered to be the largest and busiest trader in the world.

Of language and love of country

ariel-nepmucenoAugust is the time when malls and stores visibly display native costumes and paraphernalia for use in school activities that focus on Philippine culture and traditions.  Actually, what is being honored is our national language.  And from just a weeklong celebration from August 13 to 19, it has evolved to be a 30-day affair, which is intended to emphasize the value and beauty of our common language.

PNP solidarity is best anticrime weapon

ariel-nepmucenoThe Philippine National Police (PNP) must faithfully adopt and live by its cardinal principle that the entire institution will be solidly mobilized in case anyone of them is harmed or attacked, especially in the performance of their duty to serve and protect the public.

Climate-change management: The time is now

ariel-nepmucenoCLIMATE change is a daunting reality that poses the biggest threat to the survival of our planet and our people. Rapid economic gains and substantial population growth are increasing global demand for energy.  Traditional fossil fuels will still be our main source of energy, but in the meantime, the painful truth is that carbon-dioxide emissions are rising so quickly and the warming of our world is escalating to levels that science could not have reasonably predicted.

Bucket list for the next president

ariel-nepmucenoIN order for the country to move forward and build from the concrete achievements that were accomplished by the current Aquino administration, the next leader of our country must adopt specific programs that will  solve our perennial problems. Such programs must be officially pronounced as solid commitments and bind the next president to a social contract that must be fully honored.

The best tourist guide

ariel-nepmucenoTHE Philippines has the natural jewels that are capable of attracting the targeted 10 million tourists that must visit and experience a memorable vacation in the so called Pearl of the Orient. However, we have yet to fully take advantage of our strengths as a winning tourist hub. And we are still far from resolving the challenges that weaken our chance of successfully competing against other destinations.

Crossroads: Abandon the peace process or not

ariel-nepmucenoTHE passage of the congressional bill for the proposed Bangsa Moro Basic Law (BBL) is now at the verge of being delayed, at the least, or thrown out because of the extreme emotions provoked by the recent Mamasapano incident where 44 members of the Special Action Force were brutally killed.

A nation under siege

ariel-nepmucenoTHE country mourns the brutal killing of the 44 brave commandos of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police. Their death represents the extreme cost for a lasting peace in Mindanao. And this incident has further worsened the many challenges that confront a nation that has been long under siege with countless economic, social and political problems.

What’s next after the Holy Pope’s visit?

ariel-nepmucenoTHE recent visit of Pope Francis to our country, which is Asia’s only predominantly Catholic nation, is definitely successful in any measurement. In fact, we are still relishing the victory of an almost flawless handling of this grand event. However, more important is the aftermath of this memorable visit. What shall we do after hearing the guidance and virtual admonition of the smiling Pope?

Agriculture is the key

ariel-nepmucenoIN our country, being a farmer is almost synonymous with being trapped in poverty, with having no formal education, with being deprived of basic needs and, sometimes, with being a victim of injustice. This should not be the case. We are blessed with rich agricultural resources. We have to harness our agricultural strength in creating a vibrant economy that will help ensure that more Filipinos will be freed from their long years of financial and social hardships.

China 101

ariel-nepmucenoWHEN it comes to China, the views that people have about it and the emotions they feel for it are mixed, even contradictory. It is practically inevitable that China would become a global leader and a very strong rival of the only remaining superpower in the world, the United States. It’s in our best interest to carefully define the framework of our relationship with Beijing.

Breaching the wall

ariel-nepmucenoA STRONGER relationship with China would benefit the Philippines. We have to breach the wall that divides us from our giant neighbor. To achieve this, we must first fully understand what stands between us and them. Only then can we slowly progress in building an alliance that will serve the best interest of our country.

Poor in a rich country

ariel-nepmucenoTHE Philippines is blessed with extraordinary natural and human resources. We basically have what we need to end the hunger and deprivation that plague our nation, but we are trapped in a cycle of failures and mistakes that aggravates an already difficult situation.

The real hostage crisis in the South

ariel-nepmucenoAFTER being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) for six months, German couple Stefan Okonek and Henrike Dielen were finally freed last weekend. Unfortunately, at least 11 more hostages of the kidnap-for-ransom group are yet to be rescued. Because of its continued kidnapping of foreigners and holding them hostage in southern Mindanao, the Philippines continues to suffer the consequences, even long after those foreigners are released.