The Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China, and the 2024 Lunar New Year falls on Saturday, February 10th. On behalf of the Federation of Philippine Industries, I would like to extend warm greetings and heartfelt wishes to all sectors of the economy as we celebrate the auspicious occasion of Chinese New Year. As we usher in the Year of the Dragon, specifically the Wood Dragon year, according to the Chinese zodiac, it is a time for us to reflect on the past, embrace the present, and look forward to a prosperous future.
The members of Congress play a vital role in shaping the laws that govern our nation and directly impact the well-being of the Filipino people. Through their tireless efforts, legislators have authored laws that have improved the lives of our people and have set our society on a path towards progress. As citizens, we owe gratitude to the lawmakers who have championed these causes and continue to advocate for legislations that promote the welfare of the people, and the nation’s economic prosperity. The commitment and dedication of our legislators remind us that progress is possible when they prioritize the collective welfare of our society.
Garbage collection is an essential function of government, as it directly impacts public health, environmental sustainability, and overall quality of life. In fact, the government is mandated by law to collect garbage, reflecting its commitment to maintaining a clean and healthy environment for all Filipinos.
The Federation of Philippine Industries came to the defense of one of its members last week by issuing a statement decrying attempts by some lawmakers to split the Meralco franchise area. I see this move as counterproductive, so I called on all those attempting to disparage Meralco to stop their campaign, which definitely sends a wrong signal to the business community and drive foreign investors away.
I can’t help but feel dismayed by the response of some concerned government officials to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s order for them to work on measures to stop smuggling and to improve the lives of Filipinos. But I am not losing hope that with the President’s persistence for good governance, hopefully these officials will take a cue from the President’s commitment for change, work on measures to stop smuggling, learn the lessons of the past and work on a plan to mitigate the impact of calamities.
AS chairman of the Federation of Philippine Industries, I am often asked about my views regarding quality standards. My short answer is: Everybody should comply with safety and quality standards spelled out under the Philippine National Standards. The government should round up all the makers, importers and distributors of substandard products to ensure consumer protection.
Ramon Ang’s San Miguel Corp. (SMC) has committed to rehabilitate the Pasig River and Tullahan-Tinajeros River system by continuously removing millions of tons of silt and solid waste. In about two years since SMC launched its ambitious P2-billion Pasig River cleanup initiative, the company reported that it already removed over 1.3 million tons of waste from the historic but polluted waterway.
Under the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Law of 2022 and its implementing rules issued in January, companies categorized under obliged enterprises now have to account for their plastic footprint and show proof of a minimum 20-percent recovery rate for the year 2023 or face stiff penalties. They can comply in three ways: recover on their own the plastic packaging that they used, join other OEs to form a “Collective”, or engage the services of a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO).
Last April, we went to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) after we got data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showing that a sizeable amount of lead scraps derived from used lead acid batteries (ULABs) that are considered hazardous waste have been exiting the country annually.
There is virtually no livelihood and employment aspect that Covid-19 has not disrupted, and our poor countrymen were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Millions of minimum wage earners and contract workers that lost their jobs became poorer because of the long lockdowns. Thanks to the decision of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to lift restrictions earlier than expected, the people got their livelihood back. But, just as they are starting to recoup their income losses, some wise lawmakers are trying to find a new way to push poor Filipinos deeper into poverty.
AS a consumer protection measure, the government, through the Department of Trade and Industry, included flat glass in its list of products under mandatory standard. In fact, the DTI ordered that “all imported flat glass must pass the quality standards for ICC (Import Clearance Certification) and all manufacturing plants must be PS-certified (Philippine National Standards) to ensure safety on the use of this major construction material.”
Let me start my column this week by thanking Japan Tobacco International for sponsoring the recent Global Anti-Illicit Trade Summit at Bonifacio Global City’s (BGC) Shangrila Hotel. However, I was surprised when the Summit host stopped me, as one of the resource speakers, from reading the findings of a research study about the impact of the over P900 billion worth of eight illicitly traded goods on the Philippine economy and local businesses.
Standards provide the fundamental building blocks for product development, which make it easier to understand and compare competing products. A standard represents an agreed-upon norm used by industries and the government that outlines the best method to complete a task, like developing a product, providing a service, or controlling a process. Product standards also help support basic consumer protection as enshrined in the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection by helping to raise levels of quality, safety, reliability and efficiency.
Given the myriad challenges he is currently facing, we are aware that DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. has a lot on his plate at the moment. His most urgent challenge, we believe, is finding and punishing the mastermind of the biggest drug smuggling in the Philippines. Those responsible for sneaking into the country the P6.7 billion “shabu” that was seized in Manila last year should be put behind bars to show the government’s seriousness in its campaign against illegal drugs.
A wise man once said that the saddest thing in the world is not poverty—it’s loss of dignity. The word dignity comes from the Latin word “dignus”, which means worth or value. In our society, dignity is a person’s sense of self-respect and of feeling worthy of respect. While dignity resides within us, it is also communicated by the members of the community. This means our self-respect is supported by others who treat us with dignity.
Government officials who are responsive to the people’s needs are in good position to strengthen the people’s trust in the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. And there is no better way to feel the people’s pulse other than interactions with citizens. These interactions play a big role in building greater public trust, which also leads to greater compliance with a wide range of public policies.
The government exists to serve the people. In an ideal world, we want empathetic public servants. These are qualified workers who have their heart in the right place, and they are working in government because they want to help the people. We want public servants with integrity so that they will be able to uphold high personal and professional standards in all circumstances.
Living life can come in two different ways. It can be a life filled with goodness in our heart, or it can be a life of an evil soul. For many nations and men, choosing to be good or evil is a daily struggle. A predicament that I luckily never encountered in my advocacy against all forms of illicit trade, as I get inspiration from the Bible’s Romans 12:21 that says “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”