Happy Thanksgiving 2021

Thank you, Lord, for my health, my family, and my friends near and far that I hold dear to my heart and all the blessings I received this year and years past. I’m grateful for the strength and courage you gave me during these difficult and uncertain times. Please protect all of us and keep us safe and healthy. Amen.

Combating Corruption

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT (Part 12 of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

Corruption, sadly, has become endemic in the Philippines. It is a big obstacle to economic growth and the reduction of economic inequality. The huge amount of money that leaks out is not spent for the general welfare of the nation, but instead, it goes to and enriches just a few.

And these few show their ill-gotten wealth blatantly without shame and without condemnation by their friends and the general public.

Corruption is widespread and deep. It continues to persist without restraint. I dare say that the three branches of government – the Executive, Legislative and Judicial are generally corrupt. And so, with the Local Government Units (LGUs). Most Filipinos have become so numbed by its prevalence such that corruption no longer comes to the consciousness as terribly wrong. And worse…

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“Saving Wentworth Hall” Launch Today

It’s fascinating to see how the other half lived during the Roaring Twenties – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Read on. . .

Long Island Past and Present

It is my great pleasure to announce the launching of my new historical novel, “Saving Wentworth Hall,” today. Peek behind those fancy gates into the life of the rich and famous of Long Island Gold Coast during the glory days of the Roaring Twenties.

“Saving Wentworth Hall” is about the coming-of-age of Spencer Wentworth, a young scion of a New York banking family, and his sister, Emma. Born into one of the old and privileged families of the Long Island Gold Coast, they enjoy the lavish lifestyle money can buy. Three years into Spencer’s European Grand Tour while living in London, he gets a telegram to come home to New York, which changes the direction of his carefree life. Is he up to the challenge of what lies ahead?

If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, you’ll love this. If you are a real estate agent, home stager, or…

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Saving Wentworth Hall to be released soon

I’m happy to announce my new book, “Saving Wentworth Hall” to be released in a few days. Stay tuned.

Long Island Past and Present

During the Roaring Twenties, fabulous estates dotted the Long Island Gold Coast. Peek through the gate and discover the lifestyle of the rich.

This novel is about the coming of age of Spencer Wentworth, a young scion of a New York banking family, and his sister, Emma. Born into one of the old and privileged families of the Long Island Gold Coast, they enjoy the lavish lifestyle money can buy. Three years into Spencer’s European Grand Tour, he gets a telegram to come home, which changes the direction of his carefree life. Is he up to the challenge of what lies ahead?

If you like Downton Abbey, you’ll love this.

Watch for the release of the Paperback this coming week. The ebook edition is now on pre-order at Amazon. Other venues will be available at a later date.

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Engaging LGUs in economic development

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT (Part 11 of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

At present, the Local Government Units (LGUs), with their Internal Revenue Allotments (IRA), are hardly mobilized to get directly involved in economic development.

The LGUs have been decentralized since 1991, or a period of 30 long years. With the decentralization, they have been given 40% share of the Bureau of Internal Revenue collections computed on the basis of the collections of three years ago. This allocation will be augmented beginning 2022 by an additional 40% of the customs duties collected by the Bureau of Customs in compliance with the Supreme Court decision in 2018.

The total IRA for 2021 is P695 billion and is allocated among the provinces, cities, towns, and barangays based on established proportions and methods of subsequent sub-allocation. The LGUs are required to spend 20% of their…

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In Arlington by Robert Martin

Robert “Bob” Martin is the Past President of the American Rose Society. During his term of office, Bob believed that the Never Forget Garden project of the American Rose Society would be a great fit for the Centennial Celebration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Here is a beautiful and haunting poem written by him.

Thank you, Bob, for honoring our Fallen.

Francisco Rodriguez and the first Philippine bank

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BPI branch at Plaza Sta. Cruz, Carriedo, Manila
Photo Credit: By noel Gonong (Wikipedia Takes Manila participant)

While some Filipinos think that the Bank of the Philippine Islands (Banco de las Islas Filipinas, commonly known as BPI) is the first bank in the Philippines, it was not. BPI was founded on August 1, 1851, during the Spanish colonial era of the Philippines. It was called “El Banco Español Filipino de Isabel II, named after the Queen of Spain, Isabella II, the daughter of King Ferdinand VII.

The first bank founded by a Filipino was the Rodriguez Bank, circa 1831. Francisco Rodriguez was quite a wealthy man living in Manila when in 1823, he was wrongly accused of being involved in a local conspiracy spearheaded by three Mexican-born Spanish army officers in the islands. These officers were charged with harboring rebellious motives due both to Mexico’s new status as an independent…

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Leapfrogging to Higher Economic Growth (2)

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT (Part 10 of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

Investments, and in the case of the Philippines, foreign investments, is a big factor in driving economic growth. Unfortunately, for the past many years, the country has been behind most of our neighboring countries in attracting foreign investments. This low performance is a major reason why the Philippines has lagged behind most of the ASEAN countries in historical economic growth. We simply have not been competitive.

There are several reasons why we have not been competitive. The major one, I believe, is that the costs of doing business in the country is comparatively higher. I have discussed the more significant of these higher costs in Part 9 of this Commentary Series (this current Part is a continuation of Part 9). These are: the cost effects of the business interruptions and…

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Imelda Marcos- a study in a power grab, corruption and ill-gotten wealth during the Marcos Era – Part II

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Imelda Marcos – Photo taken during an interview at her Makati residence on July 29, 2008. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

In 1978, the administration Kilusang Bagong Lipunan party fielded Imelda as a candidate in the Philippine parliamentary elections of 1978. Because most opposition candidates were either in jail or had limited mobility due to Martial Law, Imelda Marcos easily won a seat as a member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa (National Congress) representing Calabarzon.

On August 7, 1982, Marcos appointed Imelda to his executive council. He assigned presidential powers to the executive council in the event of his death.

Imelda, who shared his delusions of grandeur, contemplated the commissioning of a panoramic mural of the country’s history in which every face would be a Marcos family resemblance. Consonant with all this, Marcos dreamed of founding a royal dynasty. His feckless son, Ferdinand junior, known as Bong Bong, whom he named Governor…

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Leapfrogging to higher economic growth

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT (Part 9 of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder,Buklod National Political Party

Since about five decades ago, the Philippine economy has gone what appears to be an irreversible downward spiral in comparison with our now 9 ASEAN neighbors. As shown in a World Bank report, in 2020, the Philippines ranked No. 6 in per capita income (gross domestic product) at almost US$3,000. Vietnam appears to be catching up on us soon, making us No. 7 and just ahead of Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia. We used to be No. 1.

We have been overtaken by Indonesia, which now has about one-a-half times our per capita income; Thailand, a little bit more than double; and Malaysia by almost four times, not to mention Singapore which is way, way up, and Brunei which is also quite high.

This continuing cascade certainly gives the Filipino a…

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