The Comelec Chairman and company are off to Maguindanao, in what the Inquirer editorial calls a wild goose chase. Meanwhile, Koko Pimentel appeals to the Supreme Court.
House intramurals update: Jose de Venecia insists on an open caucus of majority and his allies put the heat on Winston Garcia of the GSIS.
Reuters reports It’s red flag for gov’t budget; 2007 target in danger:
Analysts said improving economic fundamentals, including low inflation, low interest rates and the sustained remittances from Filipinos working overseas, would probably offset the negative fallout from missed fiscal targets, for now at least.
But over the medium term, a reversal of the state’s fiscal fortunes after three straight years of lower-than-targeted deficits could hurt foreign investors’ renewed interest in the Southeast Asian country.
The Philippines needs to root out endemic tax evasion and improve collection to win an upgrade from credit rating agencies, which would reduce debt payments that currently gobble up around a third of the annual budget.
The government is relying on the sale of its stakes in Manila Electric and San Miguel to raise around P55 billion. Teves has been aiming to sell the San Miguel shares in the third quarter of this year.
Despite selling a stake in Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. for P25 billion, the government overshot its P45.8 billion deficit goal in the first quarter. The actual deficit was P52 billion.
And so: Arroyo appoints BIR officer-in-charge:
Buñag on Wednesday said taxes paid in advance, mostly due to the request of Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, affected BIR’s target collection for the first quarter of 2007.
BIR said one of the major factors for the low tax collection was taxes paid in advance by large taxpayers last year, which, it said, Teves was fully aware of.
“Such advance payments were made by various taxpayers upon the personal calls and requests made, as is well-known in the BIR, by no less than Finance Secretary Margarito B. Teves himself to the President/CEOs of taxpayers,” a statement released by the Office of the BIR Commissioner said.
It said the requests made by Teves were strongly criticized by Buñag and Assistant Commissioner Nestor Valeroso of BIR’s Large Taxpayers Service.
“The impact of the advance tax payments made in 2006 has affected the 2007 performance of the BIR’s Large Taxpayers Service in particular, which would have seen a more remarkable increase,” it added.
The statement said the practice of advance tax payments was prohibited when Buñag was appointed as BIR commissioner.
So Teves won, if the background in Alvin Capino‘s column is any guide?
The latest news from highly reliable sources within the Ateneo alumni community is that Bureau of Internal Revenue chief Jose Mario Buñag is not inclined to accept the offer of Finance Secretary Gary Teves for the former to take on a diplomatic post in exchange for vacating the plum BIR seat.
Teves has reportedly told Buñag that he has convinced the President to give the latter the ambassadorship to Jordan or The Hague. Buñag is reportedly cold to the Teves offer and is heard to have said that he will simply wait till Teves announces his replacement, then quietly pack up and go back to the private sector.
The view of some members of the Ateneo HS class of 1960, to which Teves and Buñag belong to, who have followed this very disappointing ending to the Buñag-Teves saga, is that the BIR chief “has too much delicadeza to accept a diplomatic post after what is perceived as an unfair ouster scenario.”
And others begin to get the axe. Also, one faction favors accomodating Antonio Trillanes. Good cop, bad cop? Leaving Ricardo Saludo to be the bewhiskered bad cop?
AFP Chief of Staff will invoke Executive Order 464 if summoned to testify before the Senate.
President’s husband makes a rare TV appearance and formally withdraws some of his libel suits.
An interesting cluster of articles: an overview in Koreans ‘invade’ the Philippines, with reports on Only Korean businesses earn from Korean tourists while Korean businesses are bullish in Davao and Who’s afraid of Korean businesses in Baguio?
My Arab News column for this week is Philippine Cabinet’s Catch-22. The Business Mirror editorial focuses on presidential appointments to government-owned corporations as a means of political payback.
Manuel Buencamino advises Miguel Zubiri to cut, and cut cleanly.
Ellen Tordesillas on the Estrada trial -and the possible verdict.
Overseas, Seymour Hersch in the New Yorker, who helped expose the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, reports on Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba and his efforts to investigate abuses at Abu Ghraib. If only Filipino officers showed the same zeal here at home. Here’s the zinger:
“From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service,” Taguba said. “And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable.”
Taguba’s father was a veteran and survivor of the Death March: for the surviving veterans, a light at the end of the tunnel: 18,155 WWII vets to benefit from equity bill in US Congress.
In the blogosphere, have neglected keeping up-to-date on the invaluable blog of Dave Llorito, so a massive update required. First, he suggests RP’s 6.9 percent GDP grwoth is trickling down, but…
Are wages rising? It’s possible. That is quite observable in the case of the fast growing industry like the call centers, other cyberservices, and electronics. It’s also possible that the continued flow of skilled workers abroad has started to tighten labor supply. Or it’s also possible that the 6.9 percent growth rate may have really created more job opportunities. The rise in underemployment may suggest that those who are working simply took advantage of the opportunity by moving into those higher paying jobs. Maybe. That’s only my initial thoughts after looking at the aggregate numbers.
He follows this entry up with A second look at the April 2007 labor force survey:
According to the April labor force survey, the country’s unemployment rate, using the International Labor Organization definition, went down from 8.2 percent to 7.4 percent.
That’s not really miraculous because it simply means seven out of a hundred are jobless, compared to eight out of a hundred a year ago. In absolute terms, there are 33.7 million employed people in April this year, compared to 32.7 million in the same month last year – translating to about a million extra jobs.
But given our chronic high jobless rate, that’s an encouraging sign – more so because underemployment has gone down by almost 7 percentage points from 25.4 percent to 18.9 percent…
…Underemployment has gone down but the gains are largely confined in the industry and services. That seems to validate our earlier observations that so far the major beneficiaries of the recent surge in the economy are urban dwellers. And they are concentrated in the 35-years-and-over category, indicating that those who benefited most were probably supervisory or managerial level workers. Underemployment in the farm sector has actually worsened.
In summary, the major beneficiaries of the 6.9-percent growth are primarily those who are urban dwellers working in the industry and services sectors, mostly in the supervisory and managerial levels. The secondary beneficiaries are those engaged in the farm, construction and real estate sectors whose jobs are probably seasonal or cyclical. More so because those construction jobs were probably triggered by electoral considerations and may therefore vanish once the government feels they are not collecting enough revenues.
His globalized nationalism entry reminds of an experience I had during a forum at Miriam College in which Atom Araullo and I spoke. Atom pointed out Charter Change would open not just the economy to foreign investors, but also open up the educational system, too: something apparently horrible to him, but when he said it, the students’ eyes all glazed over. He’d lost them. He’d lost me, too.
Think of how AIM pioneered business management as an academic discipline in our part of the world, but now it’s struggling to attract students. Its fees are in US Dollars, but why go to AIM when all sorts of prestigious Western colleges and universities have tied up with regional counterparts in Hong Kong and Singapore? But imagine, say, if Harvard (of which a large chunk of our business community count themselves as alumni) or Wharton (ditto) were to tie up with AIM? But it’s not allowed.
I myself attended an International School for the last two years of my high school studies, and the International Baccalaureate Diploma gained me a whole bunch of academic credits at UP. I have to wonder why we don’t have more Philippine schools adopting the IB Curriculum. Which brings up another entry of great interest: Addressing the skills-job mismatch in the Philippines:
If we want this country to move a lot faster, we need a critical mass of engineers, mathematicians, software developers, physicists, and other fields in the sciences like biotechnology. These courses are the ones that really bring in the money and progress, as shown by countries that invested heavily in uplifting their school systems capability in mathematics and the sciences. We are talking here of places like Israel, Taiwan, China, Vietnam and India.
But if indeed these courses do give high economic returns for graduates, why is it that only a few students are taking up these subjects? There are several reasons.
First is that there is probably no market signal for students to take these courses, essentially because parents and students are not really aware of economic opportunities in these disciplines. If this is true, one reason is that there is no labor-market information system that could help students in making career decisions…
…Financing education is really a major problem in the Philippines. Many private universities want to invest in laboratories and faculty development. Yet they can only do that through expensive tuition, an option that is constrained by low purchasing power.
The only way to address this is by setting up some kind of a student loan program where students could pay the State later once they are able. Australia has that kind of system and Britain is learning from it. We could probably have the same here…
…The third factor: there are simply fewer people who can endure the rigors of science and engineering courses. If this is true, then the problem goes back to the poor quality of basic education. The solution, therefore, is reforming the elementary-schools system.
One possible solution is by strengthening subjects that really matter: mathematics, science, English and Filipino with laboratories on said subjects. Longer school hours can be assigned to these subjects so the students could have more time to learn new science or math concepts.
At the same time, there is an urgent need to train teachers in science, math and English. It is common knowledge that for lack of science and math teachers, many current teachers in these subjects had backgrounds in social studies, or even physical education. The government should also send these teachers to scholarships for higher learning.
Reforming the elementary-school system would take some time. But we can also take a few shortcuts by investing in science high schools. The local government units and the national government could do this through a counterparting arrangement. With more science high schools in cities and the big municipalities, we could probably increase the number of students who will eventually take science courses.
Finally, take a look at his article on From brain drain to brain circulation.
Blogger commentary on Maguindanao, the Comelec, and Zubiri: james jimenez loyally reports on the activities of his bosses; Alleba Politics thinks the Comelec boss bungled the job. Field of Dreams considers the probability two Pimentels were victimized by dagdag-bawas as very high; Partly Cloudy has little sympathy for Zubiri; The Philippine Experience is frankly hostile.
Philippine Commentary on moving the Rizal holiday from December 30 to June 19; On higher Grounds Defying Gravity has a similar opinion.Reactions to my piece on Rizal’s philosophy, from the Four-Eyed Journal and Stellify and Big Mango.
Prudence and Madness wants to use her blog to help raise political and social awareness.
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