"Focus is still on the surge in prices of basic commodities."
Haven’t you noticed? The filing of certificates of candidacy for local and national positions is just a few days away, yet people seem disinterested.
Focus is still on the surge in prices of basic commodities, from oil to rice, vegetables to poultry, to canned goods and fish, and practically everything else.
In a politics-crazy country like ours, this is one for the history books. Finally, economics trumps politics.
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If my good friend Harry Roque accepts to be the press secretary and presidential spokesperson rolled into one (as of this writing I do not know how he will decide), I have an unsolicited advice: Get an assistant who will be the government’s spokesman on economic matters.
I have long advocated the need for a spokesman on the economy in this space. I reiterate the need now.
If there was a spokesman for the economy while Train 1 was being deliberated upon in Congress, jeremiads of inflationary effects following its enactment into law could have been foreseen and explained to the public, neutralizing discontent to a great extent.
When oil prices started to boil in the world market, a good spokesperson could have forewarned the public on the effects of the international prices on the domestic economy which is almost wholly dependent on imported oil.
The cacophony of disparate excuses on the surge in the price of our staple food—rice, could have been more cogent. In fact, a good economic spokesman could have given the leadership early warning signals on the likely increases, given the procrastination of the NFA and the NFA Council in importing the staple at the right time.
Even the unseemly brouhaha over galunggong, the erstwhile “poor man’s fish” would not have happened if we had a spokesman savvy enough on the economy.
Get a young man or woman who understands economics enough and has the ability to articulate its jargon into simple terms for the public to understand. You see many of them on national TV, as anchors for business news, and get one or two on board. Researchers can be sourced from NEDA or PMS to give the spokesperson adequate staff support.
Tell you what: Inflation may abate somehow with imported rice “flooding” the market, or so NFA and DA says. But that is not the end-all of inflation. Other staples are moving up. The peso is still depreciating vis-a-vis the strong dollar. And worse, imported oil seems to be going up, up and away.
And while hopes are being pinned on Secretary Alan Cayetano’s projection of a deal with China on West Philippine Sea oil reserves, fruition is going to be long in coming, if at all.
The Filipino people are getting a practicum on economics, albeit in not so pleasant ways, jolting them even. But effective communication can help salve, not solve, the developments in our economy.
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One can empathize with SAP Bong Go’s trepidation on whether or not to throw his hat into the senatorial derby, President Duterte’s encouragement notwithstanding.
Bong has not run for any elective post, not even councilor of Davao City. Despite all the tarpaulins and stickers volunteered by friends and bootlickers, first-run jitters are but natural.
Not so in the case of Political Adviser Francis Tolentino, who has been mayor of Tagaytay for three terms and ran for senator three years ago. He almost made it, placing first runner-up to the winning twelve. His personal machinery must still be around; it’s only a matter of oiling and revving.
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Which brings me back to how economics has trumped politics in the forthcoming mid-term election preparations.
Few seem to be enthused at who will run for senator, other than the periodic results of surveys which die down as coffee table talk the day after. It seems the forthcoming senatorial elections are so boring, so predictable even.
The frontrunners have long been expected to hog the top: Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, Pia Cayetano, Nancy Binay, Sonny Angara, Koko Pimentel. The brothers JV Ejercito and Jinggoy Estrada are nipping at each other’s chances, but their chances in 2019 are still quite high, both of them or at worst, one cancelling out the other.
Bam Aquino, despite the rather paltry chances of his companions in the yet-to-be-filled up opposition slate, is still a household name, and despite recent survey findings showing him slipping, could yet make it.
There seems to be little recognition of Chel Diokno, or Erin Tanada, based on present survey findings, despite the illustrious memory of their forebears.
On the administration front, Bato de la Rosa is in the winning circle, even if he would be an ideal governor in Davao del Sur, where there is hardly any opposition to him. Imee Marcos is another likely shoo-in for senator.
But even the administration is finding it difficult to amass 12 winning candidates unless it co-opts all the reelectionist senators into its fold.
So far, the administration (whether Hugpong or PDP) has announced the following reelectionists: Villar, Pimentel, Angara and JV Ejercito. And balik-senadora Pia Cayetano. Hugpong also announced Jinggoy Estrada and Imee Marcos.
Then there’s Bato, Bong and Francis.
As for the opposition, thus far it’s only Bam Aquino, Diokno, Tanada, Alejano and Makalintal. Others previously mentioned have declared nolo interes.
Buoyed by survey results showing that Ang Probinsyano has resuscitated his chances for electoral comeback, Lito Lapid has announced his running under the Nationalist People’s Coalition. And Bong Revilla too, from the PNP Custodial Center where he has been withering the past four years.
And it’s only three days before Comelec opens up the candidate registration process.