Recent developments on the foreign-relations front are becoming unsettling. Earlier, President Duterte insulted US President Barack Obama, the European Union and the United Nations for commenting on the rising number of extrajudicial killings here. He followed these up with announcements that he would seek to expand ties with China and Russia. Then last week, he said the coming US-PH war games would be the last.
The temblor felt in parts of northeast China last week wasn’t due to natural causes. It was the result of an underground nuclear explosion over the border - the latest test blast by North Korea, coming only eight months from its last test in January. This one, according to experts, appeared to be the most powerful yet with an explosive yield estimated at about 10 kilotons, enough to trigger a quake magnitude of 5.3.
In this season of victory and loss, among the prominent losers are two brothers who had thought nothing of again seeking public office despite being charged with murder. Joel Reyes, former governor of Palawan, and his younger brother Mario Reyes, former mayor of Coron, had filed certificates of candidacy for mayor and vice mayor of Coron, respectively, despite being indicted for the murder on Jan. 24, 2011, of broadcaster and environment activist Gerry Ortega. Both brothers failed in their effort to once more enjoy big-guy titles, but that’s not the noteworthy issue in this chapter of their saga.
Of the reforms promised by President Duterte, the campaign pledge to lower the income tax rate has generated much interest. Ordinary taxpayers had long clamored for tax relief, given that the Philippines has one of the highest corporate and individual income tax rates in the region, but all their pleas had fallen on deaf ears.
Moments of poignancy and commiseration are rare in political debates, an arena where the deployment of the killer instinct against the minutest vulnerability displayed by an opponent is the norm. But last Sunday’s (April 24) presidential face-off offered such unexpected moments, specifically whenever Miriam Defensor Santiago took the floor.
Every now and then a sporting event lives by the very words the sporting world preaches: Don’t quit. Keep plugging.
That phrase just about sums up Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima’s assessment of the Philippine economy after six years under President Aquino. And he has a point. Gross domestic product grew 6.9 percent in the first quarter of 2016, the fastest among the top five members of the Asean. It outpaced China’s for the first time in 27 years and, despite the global economic weakness, was the highest quarterly growth in nearly three years and the 17th consecutive quarter of above-5-percent GDP expansion.
It’s acknowledged that tourism can easily attract private investors, generate jobs, and eventually help fuel economic growth. Blessed with more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines is home to some of the world’s best beaches and summer destinations, among them Boracay and Palawan. This landscape should have made tourism a major economic pillar and dollar earner. But sadly, the Philippines lags behind its neighbors in developing and benefiting much from it.