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Humpty Dumpty?

When I viewed the Mocha Uson cum Drew Olivar magnum opus on “promoting” federalism, two thoughts immediately came to mind.

First was the Mamasapano massacre that left 44 valiant fighters for the Republic dead.  Speaker Sonny Belmonte and Senate President Franklin Drilon at the time were trying hard to convince their members in Congress to pass the palace-certified BBL against a lot of opposition.

What happened in Mamasapano, and the ensuing errors of judgment and conduct of leadership doomed BBL in the aftermath.

Then second, while listening to the reactions of Asec Mocha, Sec. Martin Andanar and the spokesperson of the consultative committee, my friend Ding Generoso to the uproar Mocha and Drew’s magnum opus elicited from both netizens and high government officials, the nursery rhyme on Humpty Dumpty came to mind:

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.  Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.  All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

One can only hope against hope that the federalism initiative and the output of the consultative committee headed by former CJ Reynato Puno has not been mortally damaged by the bawdy opus of Mocha and Drew.

Last week in this space, I discussed the seeming rejection, if not at best the lukewarm attitude of the people towards federalism which the surveys confirmed, as a result of “failure to communicate.”

I shall no longer add to the negativity pronounced by everyone and his mother towards the video plug of Miss Mocha.  As Senator Koko Pimentel observed, not only was it vulgar, worse perhaps is that they did not even get their facts straight.  Categorizing France and Singapore as federal states is not just a failure to communicate, it is incompetent staff work.  Mindless.

*  *  *

In a previous column after the president’s third Sona, I wrote about the casualties of the speakership coup in the HoR.  

First casualty is the PDP-Laban.

Now Hugpong ng Pagbabago is flexing its muscles, along with announcing its own partial senatorial slate. Sou desu ne, the Japanese would say.

And possibly the second casualty, I then wrote, is the charter change initiative that would shift the governmental system from unitary to federal.  Time, I submit, is definitely not on the side of the federalist push.

But time has now been short-circuited by the scandal of the Mocha-Drew rag-tag vaudeville.

*  *  *

With the persistent upward movement in prices, especially on food, it’s all hands on deck in the fight against inflation.  The economic managers even conferred with Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, herself an economist, on what government could do, and quickly, to combat the price spiral.

Juxtaposed against this is the inability of NFA’s recent rice imports to stem the increase in price of the staple.  More worrisome, a harbinger of things to come, is the PSA announcement that palay buying prices are now averaging 21.60, the highest since 2014.  As this is an average, buying prices in the Central Luzon area are now hovering around 24 per kilo of dry palay, much much higher than NFA’s 17 peso benchmark.

Will this finally goad our legislators to pass the rice tarriffication law and end the quantitative restrictions on rice imports?  Given the world market situation, plus weather disturbances, will this create instant lowering of rice prices in the commercial market, once done?

Is importation, not only of rice, but as suggested, even meat and fish, be the solution?  Or will that, as Sec. Manny Pinol warns, create bigger problems without a real cure to inflation?

It’s so easy to create economic and political problems, yet so difficult to come up with solutions.  And rice is a price leader, just like oil.  The deadly combination of rice and oil price spikes creates a demonstration effect on practically all other commodities.

Those are the realities of the Philippine market.

*  *  *

Now a bit of good news: GSIS is fortunate to be led by two very able gentlemen. 

First, there was the appointment of Jesus “Clint” Aranas of Negros, a tax lawyer of no mean credentials, who brings to the pension fund savvy and out-of-the-box thinking.

Now comes Rolando Macasaet y Ledesma, de la hermosa ciudad de Zamboanga.

Rollie, as friends call him, was high on the executive totem pole of San Miguel Corp. before he finally accepted President Duterte’s desire to have him as chair of GSIS, vice Francisco Duque, since appointed health secretary.

He was also, until this appointment, our country representative to the Board of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) headquartered in Beijing.  He has worked with the Philippine National Bank and the Bank of Montreal, and was president of the Philippine National Construction Corp. under Presidents Estrada and Arroyo.  He also served in the board of private corporations like the PCI-Equitable Bank, PNB Holdings Corp. and Bankard Corp., aside from San Miguel-owned firms such as SMC-Global Power Corp., Private Infrastructure and Development Corp. which operates the TPLEX, and Trans-Aire Holdings Corp. which developed the Caticlan Airport that serves as gateway to Boracay.

Rollie was an Ateneo de Zamboanga grade school and high school valedictorian before he went to the University of the Philippines where he finished BS Economics, graduating cum laude in the class where Bangko Sentral Governor Nesting Espenilla was magna cum laude. He took the UP MBA Honors program, and went for a diploma in Management Development at Harvard Business School.

Despite his private sector career though, Rollie is hooked on that “fever in the blood” called politics, and was with me in the Erap presidential campaign, thence one of the earliest “pushers” of the Duterte campaign for president.

May the tribe of Duterte appointees to government in the mold of Macasaet and Aranas increase.

Topics: Lito Banayo , Humpty Dumpty? , Mocha Uson , Drew Olivar , federalism
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