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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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FIRING LINE: What’s going on, Junior?

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By Robert B. Roque, jr.

Senators have condemned the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for humiliating 10 flight attendants who tried to sneak in about 40 kilos of agricultural products, including onions, but leaving big smugglers and cartels untouched.

The BOC has played media yet again with little work and even less effort but a big reward in publicity.

*         *         *

Speaking of media mileage, so much hype had been put into President Marcos’s trip to Davos and what he intends to say before the World Economic Forum.

The Palace has tried to stir up such excitement over Mr. Junior’s bright idea of the Maharlika Investment Fund and to sell it to the world as if it’s the greatest thing his minions in Congress have supported.

Well, most Filipinos don’t understand it; and those who do are wary of the risks and suspicious of the name of the administration that gets to handle it.

*         *         *

Why would President Junior even second guess the viability of his proposed sovereign wealth fund for the Philippines when he surrounds himself with yes-men?

Look at who he’s bringing to the WEF, for example — 70+ people in his entourage, so it is alleged.

Social media posts have pointed out how the United States, still one of the wealthiest countries in the world, has an entourage of only 19. India, with a population of 1.4 billion, sends only four people, all ministers.

If the Filipino people are paying for the trip, isn’t this the grandest display of corruption in the Philippines before the WEF? Who in his right mind, then, would be buying into that Maharlika Wealth Fund?

*         *         *

Like many on social media, Ding C. Velasco criticizes Marcos Jr. over this expensive trip — bothered by the fact that Switzerland is one of the most expensive destinations in the world.

Another netizen cites 2011 prices “for the crappiest hotel” in Davos at $500 a night.

Velasco says PAL had to cancel its 777 flight to Vancouver because BBM supposedly commandeered it for his trip to Switzerland and allegedly had the entire flight crew sign non-disclosure affidavits.

Is there reason to think the flight may not be to Davos but to Zurich or Geneva, where the banks are? You tell me.

*         *         *

Meanwhile, back home, all attempts to deny any restlessness in the military or rumors of a destabilization plot seem to be taken over by the obvious.

Since that weekend that Gen. Andres Centino replaced Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro, we’ve seen the sudden resignation of Department of National Defense (DND) Officer-in-Charge Jose Faustino Jr.; and then last weekend, National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos’s departure from the administration.

Outside looking in, shaking up the military, defense, and security establishments tells you there’s trouble. Junior has to watch it. He must remember what happened to his namesake.

*         *         *

While it might be easier to convince Marcos Jr. to make the necessary adjustments in the AFP, the DND, and the National Security Council, it’s a lot tougher to make him quit the Department of Agriculture.

That is, despite the fact that inflationary, supply, smuggling, import, and production disasters have marked his lead of the DA, punishing Filipino consumers with higher prices of onions, sugar, and vegetables.

Last week, egg prices began soaring owing to a shortage; next week, rice prices are seen to increase over higher farmgate prices. So what will it take to get a good Agriculture chief?

*         *         *

SHORTBURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at https://www.thephilbiznews.com

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