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It’s time

/ 12:24 AM February 04, 2016

I’d like to say goodbye to Dondon (Cayetano Paderanga Jr.), a gentle, intelligent man of ultimate kindness. We’ll miss him greatly.

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After my column last week, I got a call from Customs Commissioner Bert Lina. He said the Bureau of Customs has put in place a system that ensures VAT refunds within 30 days of receiving approval from the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and is aiming for one week. So far he has refunded P12 billion.

I did not get a call from BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, so I guess her 120 days with denial still exists. Maybe she’ll call this week to say the BIR is fixing it to match what the BOC can do.

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Let’s hope so. I still can’t believe there’d be an automatic denial because you were inefficient. Perhaps Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima can step in and fix this glaring anomaly: automatic APPROVAL after 30 days if not answered sooner, please. Let’s want having business, not turn it away.

Bert also said that there is no more port congestion and that overstaying containers have been removed. I think we can do with more businessmen in the government—something I mentioned in regard to the finance and public works secretaries, too, a few weeks ago. Let’s hope the next president takes note and puts competent and experienced people in his or her Cabinet. Enough of friends and lawyers—no disrespect to lawyers, they belong in the judicial side of the Cabinet where they have the expertise and can shine. Look at Leila de Lima as just one example.

If I were the next president I’d keep those three people, and a couple of others who’ve proven themselves. You don’t need to change everyone just because there’s a new leader. We never do in business. It’s time politicians stopped being politicians. It’s time the cow jumped over the moon, too, I suppose. After all, this is a country where people believe in miracles. So pray for such a miracle: nonpolitical choices for the Cabinet.

Perhaps that can be a question in the presidential debates: Will they commit to putting only people with the relevant expertise coupled with proven managerial skills in the Cabinet, and expose any politician who tries to coerce them to do otherwise?

I hope, by the way, that no one does a Donald Trump and boycotts the debates. This is a first time, and a much-needed time. It’s time people voted for more than good looks or name recall. It’s time people were made aware of issues and where candidates stand on them. It’s time to put AlDub aside for a day and be informed.

On this, I hope all the media will cover the debates live, and re-air them endlessly. It’s time to drum into people who it is they’re voting for. And it’s time we insisted come July 1 that the claims the candidates make today are honored. No more promise to open the bureaucracy to scrutiny (the proposed Freedom of Information Act), then deliberately not meet that promise. It’s time for us to not forget, and demand that they make good on their promises.

The foundations have been laid by all post-Marcos presidents, except Joseph Estrada, in whose administration far too little happened. The others all played a part in putting the country where it is today: stable, democratic, financially sound, economically open and growing. Among its neighbors, the Philippines could be one of the best. But it’s not capitalizing on it. Too much hasn’t been done. Too much that I and many others have enumerated endlessly, to no avail. So we need a new leader who listens, understands, and, critically, acts.

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Among the six (yes, six, can you name all?), is there such a one? The debates can help us decide. Forget the ads; they’re ludicrous caricatures of the candidates’ personalities. Let’s question these guys in depth. Find out what really ticks below the glib surface.

It’s time the Supreme Court decided on Grace Poe and Rodrigo Duterte. I’m sure the justices know this, but they’ve given no assurance that they do. It wouldn’t take much for them to say they’ll decide, one way or the other, by Feb. 9, when finalizing the ballots must be completed. They have a responsibility to the nation. We are about to choose a new leader. Who we can choose from is of ultimate importance today. If they must work 24/7, then work 24/7 with a few catnaps. Time, ladies and gentlemen of the Court, is as important as the decision.

Time is also catching up on President Aquino, and he has little left. But much can be done in “little left.” I detailed some of them in a report over Christmas and the latest columns. There are other things, too, that I’ll leave others to suggest. It’s amazing what you can do if you set your mind to it.

I’m glad Congress has stopped wasting time on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. It was a noble idea, deserved all the attention the President gave it, and deserved to succeed. But it didn’t. It’s time to spend the last few (16) session days on bills that can pass—if anyone can be bothered to attend the sessions. I’d love to see the passage of Speaker Sonny Belmonte’s bill opening up the economy. But it needs an awakening of the President that seems sadly lacking. The easy ones to pass are the proposed amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer Law and to the central bank charter, and the FOI bill.

Time is fleeing. For President Aquino, rapidly. He has little of it, but he can do much. Will he?

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E-mail: [email protected] Read my previous columns: www.wallacebusinessforum.com.

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Basic Law, Bert Lina, Cayetano Paderanga Jr., Elections 2016, kim henares
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