Wishes for the New Year
We have a New Year ahead of us, with new opportunities, beginnings and second chances. Filipinos are big believers in starting the year right, and we should all support each other’s wishes for a better, brighter future.
We have a New Year ahead of us, with new opportunities, beginnings and second chances. Filipinos are big believers in starting the year right, and we should all support each other’s wishes for a better, brighter future.
The Korean negotiation produced an initial breakthrough agreement. Asians usually carry on a dialogue through symbolism without having to verbalize. The Asian way is called a Dialogue of Silence.
A 2016 University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) study found that the country will have a housing need of 12.3 million by 2030—given a backlog of 6.7 million from 2001 to 2015, and a projected housing demand of 5.6 million from 2016 to 2030.
Last year the Philippines exported to the European Union (EU) up to P486 billion ($9.3 billion) worth of goods. That volume makes the EU the second-largest market for Philippine-made office and telecommunications equipment, machinery and food products.
April 13 last week marked the 26th year the Consumer Act (Republic Act 7394) of the Philippines was signed into law. And since the law’s passage in 1992, comprehensive guidelines have been laid down in order to promote and protect consumer rights, namely—the right to basic needs, the right to safety, the right to information, among others.
Much like Boracay, several favorite tourist destinations in other countries were shut down by their government due to polluted waters, overcrowding, or untreated waste disposal.
THE Philippines has had the longest representative government in Asia. In 1902 the Philippine Bill established an elected unicameral national assembly. And in 1916, the Jones Act created a Senate composed of senators elected from senatorial districts. That representative system continued to this day, with the exception of four years of Japanese occupation during World War II.
Of the structural reforms being discussed today, the Bangsamoro basic law (BBL) and the shift to federalism are the most significant. Both will profoundly alter political structure and behavior when passed.
Malala Yousafzai, a staunch advocate of women and children’s rights, courageously promoted education in sharp contrast to highly ultraconservative policies of her native province in Pakistan. She publicly expressed her advocacies despite a grave attempt on her life by the Taliban. Malala was awarded the Nobel Prize—the youngest to win the laureate —and became a catalyst for outlawing discrimination against girls and advancing their right to education.
IN January President Duterte signed Republic Act 10968, establishing the Philippine Qualifications Framework, a nationwide system of educational standards outlining specific levels of qualifications (or educational attainment) to match particular skills, competencies and knowledge (“learning outcomes”) that graduates should possess.
A June 2017 Forbes article said that, out of the country’s 72 Filipinos who were included in the magazine’s billionaires’ list, a handful owned universities, which they had acquired within the last two decades.
Five hundred years ago, Ming Emperor Wan Mui Li (1573-1615) sent a special delegation to the Philippines who brought back kamote for Fujian farmers who were dying by the millions because of famine caused by severe drought. Fujian survived the drought and millions were saved from death on account of that Filipino humanitarian aid.
The Duterte administration recently revoked all permits given to foreign entities conducting scientific research in Philippine Rise (formerly known as Benham Rise). The Philippine Navy and the Air Force were ordered to regularly monitor—and chase away if needed—any foreign fishing or research vessel sailing in the area.
The World Bank recently released its report, The Changing Wealth of Nations 2018, where it suggested that GDP was an incomplete indicator of a nation’s economic health and development. Instead, the report argues, a nation’s development should be seen as the astute management of its broad portfolio of assets or its “wealth,” which includes produced, human, and natural capital. Similar to how a company judges its prospects via its income statement and balance sheet, a nation should therefore monitor its GDP (“its income”) alongside its management of its wealth (“its balance sheet”).
Yesterday, I attended the groundbreaking of New Clark City, an upcoming 9,000-hectare development in Central Luzon that is a joint venture between the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and the Japanese government through the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport and Urban Development (JOIN).
Tourism has remained a sturdy pillar of the country’s development. Together with the overseas Filipino workers’ remittances, the two have consistently and strongly supported the nation’s socioeconomic progress.
THE year 2017 was a good year for the global economy. The US growth rate was nearly explosive, equities boomed, unemployment rate reduced and inflation tamed. The European Union’s big economies—Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain—chalked up the fastest recovery among the regional blocs from the 2010 meltdown. Asian economic giants— China, Japan, India and the Asean—didn’t cease being innovative and dynamic. Except for Latin America and Africa, which were plagued by autocratic rulers, drug lords and civil wars, the world in 2017 seems satisfied and contented with itself.
The year 2017 comes to a close with news of the Philippine economy GDP growth projections higher and Filipinos’ sentiment regarding next year’s prospects generally optimistic.
For Christians around the world, Christmas is a joyous occasion to celebrate the blessed nativity of Jesus Christ. Some say that gift-giving became integral to the holiday to commemorate the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh the Three Wise Men offered the Baby Jesus sleeping in the manger. Yet the greatest generosity to celebrate and emulate—and not just during the Christmas holiday—was that of God the Father, offering His only Son for all of mankind’s salvation.
The Philippines improved its rankings for the World Talent Competitiveness Index compiled by the Institute for Management Development (IMD)—rising to 45th out of 63 countries this year, from 51st out of 61 in 2016. According to the report, this points to a jump equivalent of 10 spots.
In 2015 the University of Maryland Carey School of Law and the University of Baltimore School of Law partnered to launch the “Legal Entrepreneurs for Access Program” (LEAP). This is a start-up incubator scheme aimed at recent law-school graduates who want to start their own firms.
AT the recent 13th National Biotechnology Week (NBW) celebration, where I was awarded as one of seven Filipino Faces of Biotechnology, I spoke about the Philippines’s demographic “sweet spot,” which began in 2015 and would run until 2053. This is the demographic state where the size of a country’s working-age population is relatively larger than its dependents (or those who are too young or too old to work). At this point, a country holds immense potential to achieve breakthrough growth through greater productivity, higher savings rate and increased creativity.
The world’s carbon emissions could increase by 2 percent this year, according to a new three-part report from the Global Carbon Project (GCP) released at the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (or COP 23) in Bonn, Germany. This means atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels could go up to as high as 405.5 ppm (parts per million)—or some 5.5 points higher than the 400-ppm threshold scientists say hasn’t been exceeded in 800,000 years.
AT the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, President Donald J. Trump repeated his “America First” campaign rhetoric and said that the United States would no longer tolerate “chronic trade abuses.” For some, this clearly demonstrates the US’s decision to turn its focus inward and cede global leadership.
By Wednesday United States President Donald J. Trump would be on the fourth day of his long 10-day trip to Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines—the longest any sitting US president has made to the region in a quarter century.
PRESIDENT Duterte hosted the Asean Law Association (ALA) commemorative session at Malacañan Palace last Wednesday, October 25. The President exhorted the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) community of lawyers to continue exchanging best practices among its members, and expressed the hope that ALA would help address the regional scourge of poverty, transnational crimes and terrorism.
In January 2016 Oxfam released a report saying that the huge gap between the rich and the poor has reached new extremes with the world’s top 1 percent already owning more wealth than the remaining 99 percent combined. Last January the World Economic Forum reported the income and wealth inequality is one of the top risks faced by the global economy.
The world is getting smaller and increasingly interconnected on account of technology. Profound changes are taking place on how people and even states relate with each other. Two vital areas of change are privacy (related to how individuals interact) and sovereignty (related to how states interact).
IN December 2015 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his pediatrician wife Priscilla announced they would found their own philanthropic project called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), by donating 99 percent of their earnings from Facebook shares (roughly $45 billion at the time).
Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez and I led a Philippine delegation to the European Union (EU) in Brussels, Belgium last week.
IN his new book, A Fine Mess, author T.R. Reid discusses how the United States can and should reform its complex tax system, by comparing it with other taxation systems from all over the world. Mostly, he writes about stories and lessons that the US could emulate. In turn, he documents the necessary struggles for any tax reform, not just to prevail, but also to endure.
The Duterte administration is ushering in a “golden age of infrastructure” with its “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program. The avowed goal is to fast-track infrastructure spending of P8.4 trillion. This will raise the ratio of infrastructure spending to GDP from 5.4 percent in 2017 to 7.4 percent in 2022. This is nearly on a par with international standards.
THE Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) identified as priority 28 measures, 14 recommended as urgent, as follows: Unified National Identification System Act (national ID); security of tenure bill (end of contractualization/ endo); utilization of coconut-levy fund; comprehensive tax reform; National Transport Act to address transport traffic crisis; Budget Reform Act; National Land Use Act; rightsizing of the national government; amendments to the Anti-Cybercrime Act; amendments to theAgricultural Tariffication Act of 1996; amendments to the National Irrigation Administration charter regarding: Free Irrigation Act; amendments to Public Service Act; Ease of Doing Business/Fast Business Permit Act; and Government Procurement Reform Act amendments.
The Asean has evolved slowly but surely into one of the most dynamic regional blocs in its five decades of existence. Some even consider the Asean the most successful supranational grouping in the world today. It comprised 10 countries with total population of 650 million, the world’s third-largest labor force and an economy poised to become the world’s fifth-largest by 2020.
President Duterte during his State of the Nation Address (Sona) asked the US to return to the Philippines the three “Balangiga Bells” taken by American soldiers in 1901 as war booty from the parish church of Balangiga in Eastern Samar.
PUBLIC Works Secretary Mark A. Villar recently announced that the government will soon be breaking ground on a new bridge over the Pasig River, connecting Ortigas and Fort Bonifacio. This will be the first of 12 new Pasig River roadways envisioned to help decongest and ease traffic across Metro Manila.
The Group of 20 (G20) Hamburg Summit’s joint communique issued over the weekend clearly stated that all but one of the world’s richest economies would implement the Paris Accord, even if the richest, under President Donald J. Trump, did not sign onto the communique.
That’s the provocative title of a new book that surveyed conflicts between the top superpowers—the incumbent and the rising one—across 500 years of history. That situation, according to Harvard Kennedy School Prof. Graham Allison, occurred 16 times. Twelve broke out in war.
“The threat is no longer over there; it is over here,” said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in March 2015, at the Asia Security Summit. The Prime Minister described how Singaporean authorities were able to detain disenchanted Singaporean youth and prevent them from joining ISIS in Syria. He said ISIS’s declaration to establish an Asean wilayat or province under its caliphate was a “grandiose, pie-in-the-sky dream”. He nonetheless predicted that it wasn’t far-fetched the terrorist organization would aim to establish a base in the region, “somewhere far from the centers of power of state governments, where the governments’ writ does not run”.
Nearly a month has passed since terrorists attacked Marawi City, once a bucolic lakeside green city and home to an emblematic state university to spread knowledge understanding among Mindanaoans. But the coming of ISIS destroyed that image of Marawi.
The prosperous oil-rich states ringing the Arabian Sea are part of the famously known Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—a regional intergovernmental political and economic union in the Middle East. GCC members include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The way the Resorts World assault unfolded over the weekend has caused deep anxiety and grief not just for the loved ones of the victims, but for the general public, as well.
A few days after President Duterte formally declared martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus over all of Mindanao, former President Fidel V. Ramos and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes A. Sereno promptly sounded the alarm over possible abuse of martial-law powers by their administrators.
The World Bank, in its World Development Report 2008, pointed out: “In the 21st century, agriculture continues to be a fundamental instrument for sustainable development and poverty reduction. Three of every four people in developing countries live in rural areas—2.1 billion living on less than $2 a day and 880 million on less than $1 a day—and most depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.”
Incoming Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. will take the helm of the central bank while our banking sector continues to perform well and enjoy renewed global confidence.
The Philippines remains among the world’s most vulnerable to climate change. German Watch’s recent Climate Risk Index 2016, for instance, ranks the Philippines fourth in the world’s top 10 countries most affected by climate change in the past 20 years.
The threat of nuclear confrontation hangs dangerously over the Korean Peninsula between a nuclear-armed North Korea and the smart war weaponry-laden US.
This week opens the 30th Asean Summit, where the leaders of the 10 member-countries will meet at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) for the first of two high-level meetings. This summit takes place as the Philippines plays host to yearlong celebrations, conferences and meetings on the occasion of the 50th founding anniversary of Asean.
Major religions teach that life exists after death. How that afterlife is spent—whether in eternal bliss, limbo or damnation—depends on the person’s morality during his lifetime.
Erwin Macua worked as a security guard in Saint Theresa’s College, Cebu City, for nearly two decades. This month he has graduated from the same school with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, cum laude.
Malta—Malta is an idyllic, ancient and historic island in the Mediterranean. Once host to the Knights Templar, it hosted this week the Congress of the European People’s Party (EPP), the governing political coalition in the European Parliament. The top bureaucrats of the European Union (EU) and its leading center-right political leaders, like Chancellor Angela Merkel, were in full attendance. I was an invited guest to the memorable event, and I also attended the Executive Board meeting of the Centrist Democrat International (CDI) held in Malta, too.
IN celebration of International Day of Happiness, the United Nations (UN) released its 2017 edition of the World Happiness Report, aimed at providing an alternative approach to measuring development and prosperity beyond purely economic terms like GDP. For this year’s report, the Philippines ranked 72nd out of 155 countries, much higher than our ranking of 82nd out of 157 last year.
Over the weekend, China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang came to the Philippines as the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit the country during the Duterte administration. He came with a package of grants, loans and deals reportedly worth up to $6 billion, covering Philippine agricultural exports to China, and 15 infrastructure development plans, including those for bridges, railway systems, irrigation and a hydroelectric dam.
During the campaign, candidate Donald J. Trump heaped praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin as a decisive leader and hinted at lifting the West’s sanctions on Russia for grabbing Crimea and actually supporting the secession of Eastern Ukraine.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte recently approved the historic Paris Accord on Climate Change, which the Senate is expected to ratify soon. Despite his previous misgivings, it appears the President changed his mind when most of his Cabinet were for the deal and when it became clear the Philippines could still revise or re-negotiate its pledge—or intended nationally determined contribution (INDC)—of reducing carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2030.
PHILANTHROPY in the digital age has taken a dramatic shift and has become large scale. Gift-giving seems to have grown in magnitude in step with the gigantic challenges we confront today.
Debates are ongoing in Congress on reinstating the death penalty for heinous crimes. The proposal has already reached the plenary at the House of Representatives, while the Senate suspended deliberations at the committee level as it became clear that restoring the death penalty would violate the country’s treaty obligations—particularly, the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Now that Malacañang has put on hold the recent closure and suspension orders over 28 mines across the Philippines, the time should be used to pause and think—especially on the question whether responsible mining is actually feasible.
Freedom in the Philippines is declining, according to Freedom House’s most recent report Freedom in the World 2017. The report cited the thousands of extrajudicial killings committed since the start of the President’s war on drugs as the primary reasons for the downward trend. The report also identified the Philippines as among countries that “may be approaching important turning points in their democratic trajectory, and deserve special scrutiny during the coming year.” Others in that category are Iraq, Zimbabwe, Kyrgyzstan and Tanzania.
WE closed 2016 with glowing projections for the Philippines from multilateral agencies, like the Asian Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which both predicted the economy to grow by 6.8 percent.
At the recent World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, the United Arab Emirates, through the Dubai Future Foundation, launched its first global State of the Future report, which cites trends in seven key areas and the role of technology in those areas.
At the state banquet in Malacañang, President Duterte said, “Japan is a friend closer than a brother…a friend unlike any other.” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded that Philippine-Japanese relations are “deep, warm and brotherly”.
IN November 2016 Oxford Dictionary declared that the international word for the year was “post-truth”—an adjective relating to or denoting “circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.
Donald J. Trump’s surprise election last November is, perhaps, the most significant political upheaval of 2016, with far-reaching impact on Asean’s 10 members—Brunei Darus-salam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
IN 1994 the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) was created by virtue of Republic Act (RA) 7722 as an agency separate and distinct from what we now call the Department of Education (DepEd).
Good news about the Philippines abounds. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently raised its 2016 growth forecast for the country to 6.8 percent GDP growth from 6.4 percent—as it trimmed its economic projections (from 5.7 percent to 5.6 percent) for the 45 countries that it considers as “developing Asia.”
In my December 4 Manila Bulletin column “Erap, the Heritage Conservator”, I suggested that Mayor Joseph E. Estrada, with his background and proven support for the Arts, is cut out for the role. My column was about recapturing Manila’s former glory, amid the reported conversion of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC) into a mall. It elicited several reactions from historians, heritage conservationists and netizens. Some are critical, others helpful.
Last Sunday my Manila Bulletin column, “Erap, the Heritage Conservator”, was about recapturing Manila’s former glory because of the reported demolition of the Rizal Memorial Coliseum and the surrounding Sports Complex for a mall and several mixed-use sites.
During the third quarter of this year, our economy proved again to be Asia’ fastest-growing at 7.1 percent—higher than China’s 6.7 percent, Vietnam’s 6.4 percent, Indonesia’s 5.0 percent and Malaysia’s 4.3 percent.
As the now unquestioned leader of the most powerful country and the richest economy in the world, how does President Trump see America’s role in global affairs? US allies in the East and West are all wondering.
Donald Trump’s victory is unprecedented and historic. He swept the South, captured the so-called Rust Belt, and won most of the states on the periphery of the US-Mexico border.
The Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap) recently handed out its first- ever Flare Awards to honor individuals and institutions who have contributed to the outstanding growth of the information-technology and business-process management (IT-BPM) industry.
THIS is the fourth and final column in a series that discusses the societal impact of an aging population.
This is the third in a series of columns on aging, beginning with how our society handles retirement in old age, to the need to revisit and reform our overall pension system.
This is the second of a series of columns on aging. My last column talked about how rapid aging across the East Asia and Pacific region could increasingly put a strain on society and government finances, particularly through rising health-care costs.
In December 2015 the World Bank reported that the East Asia and Pacific (EAP) region—home to some 211 million elderly or one-third of the world’s population aged 65 years and above—is aging faster than any other region in the world today.
A 2010 Stanford University research brief noted that ever since Finland topped the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment in 2000, much research has been devoted to studying how the country was able to turn around its non-descript education system into the world’s best in just two decades. Among the factors identified, it was Finland’s excellent teachers that trumped everything else.
Over the weekend, I made a promise to myself to devote the remaining years of my life to three projects.
During last August’s municipal elections in South Africa, a tectonic shift in South African politics occurred. The ruling party African National Congress (ANC) lost control of key cities—Johannesburg (the economic center), Pretoria (the administrative capital) and Cape Town (the second-most populous city)—while suffering a loss in voter support in rural townships across the country. Analysts say the upset was, in part, due to Mmusi Miamane, the young and charismatic leader of the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA).
SAVE THE CHILDREN’s recent Cost of Hunger report on the Philippines shows a looming public-health hazard—the continuing prevalence of malnutrition among our children 5 years and under. The report states that, after a little more than a quarter-century of steady improvement, childhood undernutrition in the Philippines has increased by more than 10 percent between 2013 and 2015, with under-five stunting increasing from 30.3 percent to 33.4 percent and underweight rates from 20 percent to 21.5 percent.
Last Saturday I keynoted the Philippine Expo on Aging Well held at the Metrowalk, Pasig City. It was organized by AgeWell Philippines, a club of pharmaceutical giant Unilab that is dedicated to helping seniors and “soon-to-be” seniors stay healthy, happy and active.
LAST week Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol keynoted the first Aurora-Korea Development Cooperation Forum in Baler, Aurora, attended by government and private-sector delegations from the Philippines and Korea.
Hidilyn Diaz brought signal honor to the Philippines when she ended the country’s 20-year Olympic medal drought by winning the silver medal in the women’s 53-kilogram weightlifting category.
President Duterte explicitly stated in his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) that countering global warming will be a top priority of the Philippines. For sure, he cautioned that the global solution proposed be based “upon a fair and acceptable equation.” In his recent meeting with US State Secretary John F. Kerry, he said the Philippines would abide by the Paris accord. And he asked the Senate, as the treaty-ratifying body and the President’s partner in foreign relations, to give him advice regarding the Paris accord.
Charter change (Cha-cha) is absolutely necessary for our country at this time. The 1986 Constitution was a stirring reaction to 20 years of authoritarian regime. A pluralistic politics and entitlement-laden citizenry in a new and revived democracy was established. As a result, we witnessed a proliferation of political parties and sectoral parties, grant of free high schooling, Magna Carta of Rights in favor of various sectors and other welfare measures.
The Agtech Investing Report 2015 found that, across the globe, up to 526 deals were clinched last year involving new agricultural technologies, amounting to $4.6 billion in investments—nearly double the $2.36 billion invested in 2014.
In 2014 the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) launched a Creative Productivity Index (CPI) as a new way of rating a country’s innovation capacity.
Even before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled last week in the Philippines’s favor, President Duterte declared his openness to engage in bilateral talks with China over the maritime disputes.
The Healthy Living Index 2016 rated the Philippines among the least healthy in Asia. Filipinos were found to be among the most sleep deprived in the region and do an average of only 2.1 hours of exercise a week, far below the regional average of three hours.
THE central theme of President Duterte’s inaugural speech is how to restore and fortify the people’s faith and trust in the government.
When he was sworn in as Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau introduced his 30-person, gender-balanced and ethnically diverse Cabinet. He described the group as one that “looks like Canada,” promising that his government would be based on “trust and teamwork.”
Last June 8 (World Oceans Day), the Haribon Foundation and Newcastle University released a study that described the alarming decline of 59 reef-fish species in Philippine waters.
Last Friday Dr. Aileen Baviera of the University of the Philippines Asian Center delivered a public lecture on the impact of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) maritime dispute on domestic stakeholders.
A new study published in the scientific journal PLOS One revealed that some of the Philippines’s largest coral-reef fish are fast disappearing due to decades of unsustainable fishing.
Philippine football may be in its incipient stage. But in recent years, the beautiful game started gaining popularity among Filipino sports fans—not least because of the Philippine Azkals’ performance, buoyed by unwavering support from corporate sponsors and civil-society groups.
Last week Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua told the press that Beijing hopes the incoming administration will turn a “new chapter” and resume bilateral talks with China over ongoing maritime disputes.
Since 2012, a steady rotation of two Chinese Coast Guard vessels has effectively blockaded the traditional fishing grounds of Filipino fishermen at the Scarborough Shoal to the west of Pangasinan. The patrol has intensified, as five more vessels were spotted there a few weeks ago, according to the Department of National Defense.
SEVERAL of the issues we face as a nation have both national and global dimensions. The recent hacking of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) data involved personal information of some 55 million registered voters. Global security firm Trend Micro was responsible for bringing to light Comelec’s massive data leak. Foreign hackers allegedly perpetrated the laundering of $81 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh through several Philippine-based casinos and Chinese nationals. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is probing into the biggest cyber heist at Bangladesh’s formal request.
The past few weeks have seen how the world’s climate is changing and getting hotter at an increasingly faster pace.