BIZ BUZZ: ‘Prodigal’
This billionaire’s daughter, along with her husband, found herself “outside the kulambo” (out of the loop) after the old guard in the business group uncovered certain “maneuverings” during the pandemic.
Sometime during the lockdowns, the couple moved into the billionaire’s home, purportedly to support the old folks. However, several sources said they had overstepped their boundaries.
First, they appointed themselves gatekeepers of the parents. Even those key officers of the group who were supposed to directly report to the patriarch found themselves cut off.
“They maneuvered to get appointed into positions,” one source said.
Then they allegedly got some papers signed that essentially (mis)appropriated certain properties for themselves, sources recounted.
But while others in the group found these moves appalling, the couple apparently felt it was something they deserved for all their hard work.
When cornered on the issue of whether the husband was paying rent on one property, for instance, they said “no” because that property was already theirs! The usual levels of clearance in the tightly knit core group were apparently not followed.
Then some other dealings turned out to be questionable as well. For instance, it was discovered that a construction contract had been awarded to an “associate” of the couple without any track record. This project went pffft.
One can imagine how upset key family members and group lieutenants were after these issues started surfacing.
Fortunately for the couple, blood is thicker than water in this house and they haven’t been treated as pariahs in family events, which they still religiously attend.
The daughter hasn’t been stripped of her position in the parent company yet, although the couple’s actual powers have been clipped since then.
However, they still have a long way to go to win back their folks’ good graces, and maybe find their way back into the inner business circle.
IT lady at the BIR
Incoming Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) chief Lilia Guillermo will break tradition as her predecessors at the agency—outgoing Commissioner Caesar Dulay and Guillermo’s former boss Kim Jacinto-Henares—are both lawyers.
An information technology (IT) expert, Guillermo obtained a bachelor’s degree in statistics as well as a master’s in industrial engineering, both from the University of the Philippines.
Soon to retire as assistant governor at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) as well as as the central bank’s chief information officer (CIO), Guillermo will extend her public service career and join her current and future supervisor, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno, who will be the Finance secretary in the Marcos Jr. administration.
Before her BSP stint, Guillermo was Undersecretary at the Department of Budget and Management under then-Secretary Diokno, where she helped modernize the public financial management program.
Observers and old timers say whoever heads the BIR needs to be adept at tax laws and regulations to better collect much needed government revenues.
With Guillermo’s return at the BIR, where she was deputy commissioner for information systems, her expertise will dovetail with what Diokno wants to do as Finance chief: improve tax administration through digitalization.
As president of the CIO Forum or the organization of all CIOs in the Philippine government, Guillermo said last year: “Digital transformation in government is upon us. It is inevitable and, as CIOs in government, we must embrace it wholeheartedly if we are to stay relevant and globally competitive.”
“In government, we are faced with several challenges in sustaining service delivery. Technological improvements are advancing, but sometimes policies, regulations, skills and institutions may be falling behind. Strong digital leadership is needed to transform our organizations or the entire government or the entire nation to be fit for the online and digital world, through a process of building new capacities, structures and ways of working,” Guillermo said.
—Ben O. de Vera
An award he didn’t refuse
We know outgoing Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III isn’t too fond of receiving awards. He rejected many of them, mostly from foreign publications that wanted to recognize him as “Finance Minister of the Year.”
Prepandemic, these awards would have let Dominguez travel overseas in junkets while hobnobbing with the who’s who of the finance world. But he is this administration’s “Mr. No,” after all, politely declining honors left and right (as well as, of course, excessive government spending).
And we’ve often heard Dominguez say all the reforms pushed and undertaken by the Department of Finance (DOF) under his watch were a group effort together with the men and women of the DOF.
That’s why the Order of Lakandula conferred to Dominguez by President Duterte—his childhood friend and classmate—last week was an exception. The outgoing Finance chief accepted it and, in the same vein, acknowledged that it was a recognition of their teamwork at the DOF.
“I accepted the Order of Lakandula rank of Bayani (Grand Cross) on behalf of the DOF team. Your hard work made this possible,” Dominguez said during the awarding ceremonies held last Thursday night.
In a statement on Friday, the DOF noted that this award is bestowed on “distinguished persons of political and civic merit.”
“The honor is in memory of Lakandula’s dedication to the responsibilities of leadership, prudence, fortitude, courage and resolve in the service of one’s people,” the DOF said, referring to the heroic precolonial chieftain of Tondo, Manila, who fought the Spanish invaders.
The DOF said the Order of Lakandula with the Rank of Grand Cross awarded to Dominguez was due to his “exemplary service to the nation that helped contribute to the success of the Chief Executive’s signature infrastructure modernization program ‘Build, Build, Build.’”
As President Duterte’s chief economic manager, Dominguez oversaw the implementation of the ambitious program that doubled public infrastructure investments as a share of the economy during the outgoing administration compared to its predecessors.
Infrastructure spending to GDP last year hit 5.8 percent and is expected to remain high at 5.5 percent of GDP this year.
The DOF also pointed to Dominguez’s push for the comprehensive tax reform program, including the TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) Law that shored up tax revenues to finance infrastructure development, as well as “President Duterte’s policy of fiscal discipline and responsibility, which earned for the country its highest credit ratings that were sustained even amid the pandemic.”
The Philippines’ investment grade credit ratings had “enabled the government to access highly concessional financing from its bilateral and multilateral partners for its Build, Build, Build projects, including the country’s single biggest infrastructure project to date and first-ever underground railway system, the Metro Manila Subway,” the DOF said.
President Duterte also bestowed the same award to Dominguez’s other peers in the infrastructure push: Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and former presidential adviser on flagship programs and projects Vivencio Dizon, as well as Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
—Ben O. de Vera INQ
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