By Rose de la Cruz

 

December inflation dropped to 5.1 percent, from 6 percent in the previous month, of 2018 indicating that

price pressures have started to dissipate with inflation expected to fall within target for 2019 and 2020.

 

Year-on-year headline inflation for 2018 averaged at 5.2 percent and was above the Government’s inflation target range of 3.0 percent ± 1.0 percentage point for the year.

 

Headline inflation decelerated further to 5.1 percent year-on-year in December 2018 from 6.0 percent in the previous month.

 

Likewise, core inflation—which excludes selected volatile food and energy items to measure underlying price pressures—eased to 4.7 percent in December from 5.1 percent in November. Month-on-month seasonally-adjusted headline inflation also remained negative in December at -0.4 percent from -0.3 percent in the previous month.

 

The BSP nevertheless continues to keep a close watch over price developments and shall consider this latest development and all other relevant information at its next monetary policy meeting to ensure that the monetary policy stance remains consistent with its price stability objective.

 

The slowdown in inflation rate for both food and non-food items weighed down on overall inflation in December 2018. Food inflation moderated further during the month as most food items posted lower year-on-year inflation rates while inflation for large-weighted commodities such as rice also fell with the ongoing harvest season and additional supply from rice imports.

 

Similarly, non-food inflation also slowed down due primarily to lower transport inflation. This in turn was due mainly to the decline in international oil prices as reflected in the downward price adjustments of domestic petroleum products and the provisional rollback of the passenger jeepney minimum fare in selected areas.


"The latest inflation outturn confirms further the BSP's earlier assessment that the inflation target for 2019 - 2020 shall be achieved. The within-target inflation outlook over the policy horizon largely reflects the estimated impact of the rice tariffication law, lower global oil prices, and latest monetary policy adjustments by the BSP.

 

Nonetheless, the BSP continues to keep a close watch over price developments in the country and shall consider all relevant information at its next monetary policy meeting on 7 February 2019 to ensure that the monetary policy stance remains consistent with the BSP’s primary mandate of price stability.”

Economic managers

 

Economic managers of the country welcomed the news of inflation rate dropping to 5.1 percent in December, signifying, they said, that the mitigating measures already in force are broadly effective.

 

The rate of price increases has remained manageable, giving the country adequate elbow room to sustain its economic growth and reach its development goals. Still, we understand that the faster inflation particularly in the middle of 2018 had affected many Filipinos, most especially those in the disadvantaged sectors. For this very reason, the economic team took swift and decisive measures to tame inflation as directed by the President.

 

Inflation in Metro Manila decelerated for the fourth consecutive month to 4.8 percent in December 2018 from 5.6 percent in November. The rest of the regions felt slower inflation rates in December 2018 compared to the previous month.

 

The economic cluster also said “while we can say that the worst seems over given the signs of easing price pressures, we continue to be vigilant of possible risks.”

 

For this year, with the expected signing into law of the Rice Tariffication Bill, rice prices are expected to decline by P7 per kilo. “We recognize, however, that this favorable effect can only be sustained if there are more players in the rice market, starting from production and financing to postharvest and trading,” the managers said.

 

Rice supply

 

Ensuring supply of rice and other major agricultural products from local sources likewise remains crucial over the near term with the looming El Niño phenomenon in 2019. Short-maturing, high-yielding, and resilient varieties of crops should be utilized, alongside efficient water management systems. Over the medium to long-term, reassessing the vulnerability and suitability of farm areas should also be prioritized to bring forth adaptive farming activities.

 

The economic team will aggressively push for the full operationalization of the National Single Window.  At the same time, the government pledges to step up its anti-smuggling measures, aiming that only duly-taxed imports enter the country. We also need the Philippine Competition Commission to be vigilant in curbing anti-competitive behavior, particularly in the rice market. In the fisheries sector, the government is strengthening its crackdown against illegal fishing. Ten out of the 13 fishing grounds in the Philippines were reportedly overfished. This effort must be accompanied by sustainable coastal resource management to help increase fish production.

 

We also advise the Department of Agriculture to hasten the issuance of the Fisheries Administrative Order No. 259 to compensate for the limited supply as some parts in the Visayas are under closed fishing season.

 

Falling crude prices

 

For the past two months, the Philippines continues to benefit from the falling prices of international crude oil resulting in a series of oil price rollbacks. The Department of Energy, on its end, is closely monitoring domestic pump prices to ensure that the new excise tax on oil is not yet reflected in the prices at the start of the year, as old fuel inventories are not subjected to the tax increase.

 

We also ask concerned government agencies to fast-track the implementation of the mitigating measures scheduled this year under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law, particularly the unconditional cash transfer and fuel vouchers.

 

These could fend off possible second-round effects, which may arise from further demand for wage and fare increases.

 

As we welcome 2019, we assure the general public that our dedication and commitment to our collective long-term vision of a good life for all remain undiminished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

With almost P200 million expected from the final tax of the P1-billion pot from the 6/58 draw, Rep. Harlin Neil Abayon III, AANGAT Tayo partylist and deputy minority leader, is proposing that this be decided by the winner, and not automatically go to the government as the TRAIN (or tax reform for acceleration and inclusion) law provides.

 

Abayon said if he would win that pot, he would ask the government to put it on programs for the youth (millennials like him), Warays and the senior citizens.

 

The TRAIN law grants the government the right to collect the 20 percent final tax on lotto winnings and how it is spent is entirely up to the national government with the winner having no say on it.

 

Before the TRAIN Law took effect, the lotto jackpot had no final tax and the winner could spend it all according to his or her wishes.

 

He said his idea is to give back to the lotto jackpot winner the right to decide how the entire jackpot is spent, but the final tax still goes to the government. There is no government revenue loss.

 

For example, the winner should be able to tell the government that the final tax be spent on youth projects, senior citizen programs, public school/s he or she graduated from, or the public hospital he was born at, or on his home barangay or hometown.

 

“In my case, if this bill becomes a law and I win the jackpot prize, I would want my fellow Warays and fellow millennials,” he added.

 

His proposed House Bill 8418 provides the taxpayer, upon whose lotto winnings of over P10,000 will be subjected to the final tax of 20%, is empowered to determine and specify in a notarized letter addressed to the President of the Philippines, the public school, public hospital, government scholarship or educational assistance program, government project, or barangay to which the final tax shall be allocated and spent.

 

The lotto jackpot winner's identity would still be kept secret upon his or her wishes. The rest of the winnings, which is a hefty 80 percent, would be spent on private and personal choices.  

 

 

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

With the recent appointment of Agnes Devanadera as chairman of the Energy Regulatory Commission and Alexis Lumbatan as Commissioner, another member needs to be appointed to make a quorum.

 

Rep. Carlos Roman Uybarreta, 1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy Inc., said a quorum is needed to address rising electricity costs during the elevated world oil prices and the continuing deterioration of the peso versus the dollar.

 

Devanadera and recently-appointed Commissioner Alexis Lumbatan are the only members holding fort now at the regulatory agency. They need one more commissioner to constitute a quorum so they can approve resolutions and decide on pending petitions, including those that can reduce electricity charges, he said.

 

"I am appealing to Malacanang to name very soon the commissioner who will fill the current lone vacancy in the ERC," Uybarreta said. Two commissioners are under Ombudsman suspension.

 

The congressman noted how, an 11.4 percent increase in energy costs of consumers led to nearly a full percentage point contribution--0.8 to be exact--to the 6.4 percent inflation recorded last month of August. Energy costs account for 7.44 percent of the consumer price index.

 

"As soon as the third commissioner is appointed, I ask ERC chairperson Devanadera to immediately convene the ERC commission en banc so they can make up for lost time," Uybarreta also said.

 

Devanadera’s last government post was Secretary of Justice under former President Arrroyo—which was preceded by her stint as Solicitor General.

 

Lumbatan, a personal friend of President Duterte, is known for his political antics that became viral on the internet especially during the president’s inauguration.

 

 

`

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

For wrongly tagging two Quezon City kagawad as suspects in the fatal stabbing of Ombudsman Assistant Special Prosecutor Madonna Joy Ednaco Tanyag.

 

Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, former QC Councilor of District 1, said Barangay Vasra kagawad Oliver Pascasio and kagawad-elect Segundo Antenor, were written in the police blotter as suspects without even conducting the proper investigation or because of flawed English.

 

Rappler and PTV-4 must conduct their own internal review to determine how they made their mistakes out in the field and in their newsrooms.

 

The fact is Pascasio and Antenor came to the rescue of the Ombudsman prosecutor and rushed her to hospital in an effort to save her life.  She said she was a QC councilor for three terms before being elected as Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Representative in Congress.

 

It is disgusting that Rappler and PTV-4 reported them as suspects and in the process maligned their honor before the public and to their constituents in Barangay Vasra in particular.

 

Retractions of the wrongful Rappler and PTV-4 reports are not sufficient.

 

She said she demands a public apology by them and by the local QC police.

 

She also demanded that the reporters, editors and QC police officers personally apologize to Kagawad Pascasio and Antenor for what they did to them.

 

 

They can defend their actions, present reasons for the errors all they want. The bottom line is they named the wrong suspects and for that they must apologize.

 

She also took the opportunity to appeal to PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde and PNP NCRPO Director Guillermo Eleazar to investigate the wrongful identification of the two QC kagawad as suspects.

 

She also asked the police to intensify their war against street crimes and illegal drugs. “We need more police visibility. Quezon City has long been a hotbed and nest of drug pushers and drug addicts. The PNP clearly must do more but within the bounds of human rights protocols and law,” she said.

 

She also cited the need for more law enforcement training for all barangay tanod and for more PNP who know how to investigate, she added.

 

We need first aid training for barangay officials and tanods so they can save lives on the spot and not just rush victims to the hospitals.

 

Street crimes are often done by street gangs and some violent neighborhood fraternities. We need the new anti-hazing law now because that has provisions that will protect citizens against neighborhood fraternities that commit street crimes.

 

Also, Kagawad Pascasio, Antenor, and Bagong Henerasyon Party-list condole with the family, friends, and colleagues of Assistant Special Prosecutor Tanyag on her violent and untimely death.

 

 

 

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