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Andrew James Masigan
Andrew James Masigan
Numbers Don’t Lie - Is an economist, political analyst and businessman. He is a 20-year veteran in the hospitality and tourism industry. For comments and reactions, e-mail andrew_rs6@yahoo.com. Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_masigan.

A first trimester assessment of the Duterte administration’s performance

President Duterte was elected with an overwhelming mandate as the majority pined for a leadership that was both strong and magnanimous. We hoped he would do for the Philippine what Lee Kwan Yew did for Singapore. Different people have different views on President Duterte’s performance. This is my assessment as a businessman, living in Manila. I consider the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) as this administration’s greatest triumph. Long overdue, the executive order on FOI mandates full transparency among agencies of the executive branch. It brings us one step closer towards curbing corruption in government. Another milestone is the ratification of an indefinite ceasefire between government, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front. A substantive accomplishment, too, is the launch of the 8888 portal to receive people’s …

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VP Leni Robredo’s First 100 Days

While volumes have been written about President Deterte’s First 100 Days, not much is known about VP Leni’s pursuits. I was fortunate to get an inside view on the goings-on at the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP)  in a visit last week. In a briefing at her modest office in New Manila, I began to appreciate how much the tenacious Vice President has accomplished in just three months.    Working quietly and under the radar,  Leni focused her efforts on her core mission to help the poorest among us and the disenfranchised. She hit the ground running spending two days a week visiting impoverished provinces (14 so far) to listen, consult and better understand their needs. The remaining days of the week were spent talking to donors not only to solicit …

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New meaning to Spain’s National Day

2007 through 2013 were  years the Spanish people would rather forget.  It was the era of Spain’s double dip recession  and struggle for survival. Prior to 2007, the Spanish economy was riding high on strong  economic growth (average of 3.7% since 1999 ),  access to cheap financing  and massive spending on prestige projects.   On the surface, it seemed  Spain was healthy given its manageable debt.  They were a stark contrast to  Greece, Portugal and Italy who were drowning with  unmanageable debt to GDP ratios. The culprit  to Spain’s  economic mayhem  were the liberal  loans given to  home builders and buyers at low interest rates – a situation that caused  a bubble of over-inflated prices. The bubble burst in 2008  and property prices crashed by a third.  Along with the plunge were massive …

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New blood needed at the Philippine Olympic Committee

The future looks bleak for Philippine sports what with  Jose “Peping” Cojuangco running unopposed for a fourth term as president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).   For those unaware,  the POC serves as the mother organization for all National Sports Associations (NSAs) including those for boxing, weighlifting, equestrian, etc. It is the body recognized by the International Olympic Committee for the Olympic Games, the Asian Games, the ASEAN  Games and other multi-event competitions. To secure his  fourth term as  POC head,  the  former congressman must win a majority vote from  the forty NSAs in addition to votes from  medalled athletes Hidlyn Diaz, Henry Dagmil, and our   International Olympic Committee  representative, Mikee Cojuangco. Insiders affirm that  Cojuangco already  has it “in the bag” owing to his masterful  politicking among sports association heads …

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Impediments to the Duterte’s infrastructure plan

I recently attended the Euromoney Investment forum where Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno and BSP Governor Amando Tetangco addressed an audience of 800. The mood was optimistic owing to the country’s strong economic  fundamentals and President Duterte’s expansionist  economic policies.  The great dampener,  however,  was the specter of the economy  imploding on the back of infrastructure bottlenecks. Sec. Diokno assured the audience that infrastructure is at the forefront of President Duterte’s agenda.  Whereas in 2015,  infrastructure spending amounted to only  R436 billion, or 3.3 percent of GDP,  Diokno assured a ramp-up  to R860 billion, or 5.4 percent of GDP, by 2017. Assuming everything goes according to plan, infrastructure spending should top R7 trillion by 2022, an amount sufficient to put our  infrastructure at par with that of Malaysia. In the last quarter …

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Uncertainty is eroding business confidence

After 80 days in office, we now realize that spewing invectives is part of President Duterte’s character.  We concede that old habits are hard to change for a 71-year-old man. We can live with  the invectives… what we cannot live with  is  “uncertainty.” A disturbing pattern has formed.  Each time the President dishes-out   diplomatic slurs, the trio of Salvador Panelo, Perfecto Yasay and Martin Andanar would release conflicting statements   the following day in an attempt to rationalize or contextualize what was said. This has made Malacañang messaging both blurred and conflicting.  This was especially evident when the President launched a verbal tirade against President Obama and again when he called for the pull out of American troops in Mindanao, among others. The push and pull of presidential statements   have caused many economic analysts …

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The billboard industry needs Malacañang control (Part II)

Last week, I called for Malacañang’s intervention to regulate the billboard industry since neither the MMDA, the local government units nor the justice system has effectively enforced the national building code. Majority of billboards today are in blatant violation of the code’s size and zoning specifications. The billboard industry is controlled by the powerful Outdoor Advertising Association of the Philippines (OAAP), an organization that would like us to believe that they are composed of small companies trying to eke out a living. Truth is, most are owned by conglomerates, oligarchs, politicians and land owners who use their influence to circumvent the national building code. Local government units and the justice system are willing conspirators to this. It has come to a point where it now takes the strong arm of Malacañang to regulate …

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The billboard industry needs Malacañang control

In numerous public addresses, President Duterte urged the Filipino people to report any incidence of injustice committed by unscrupulous government officials, oligarchs and special interest groups. Heeding this call, the citizenry appeals to the President to address the uncontrolled proliferation of billboards in our cities, especially in Metro Manila. For decades, the Outdoor Advertising Association of the Philippines (OAAP) has mocked the national building code by blatantly disregarding zoning and size regulations. How we’re able to get away with it? They hide behind powerful politicians and behind loopholes in the law. Back in 2010, the MMDA was given the mandate to regulate the uncontrolled proliferation of billboards. The OAAP sought the intervention of the courts to prevent the MMDA from regulating the industry. A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) was granted in favor of …

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Duterte’s first 50 days and oldest business group

I would give the Duterte administration a rating of 6 out of 10 for its first 50 days in office. It gets a passing score in my book for the following reasons: First, its 10-point economic plan hits the mark on multiple fronts. Done right, it can put the economy on the fast track of growth; Second, the Department of Finance is clearly working on overdrive to carry-out fiscal reforms at the soonest possible time, primary of which is the rationalization of income and corporate taxes; third, I applaud the passage of the Executive Order on Freedom of Information; fourth, moves towards social reform are decisive and immediate what with the purging of tax evaders, political power players and inequitable oligarchs; finally, the war against illegal drugs and criminality is clearly …

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Philippine Airlines’ 5-star aspiration

My work requires me to do a lot of travelling. In the last three months alone, I’ve been to five countries across three continents. When you travel as much as I do, the excitement of it all escapes you. It’s no longer fun dealing with airports and living out of a suite case. I’ve been a frequent flyer of Philippine Airlines since the ’90s. I fly PAL not because they are anything special but because they have the most direct connections from Manila. PAL, to me, is like a Toyota purchased 15 years ago. While fundamentally reliable, it is not as efficient, luxurious nor as prestigious as the newer kids on the block like Qatar or Emirates. I have become accustomed to PAL’s 3-star service and have learned that demanding for …

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