BIZ BUZZ: Recto assembles dream team
It took veteran lawmaker Ralph Recto a few months to take over the Department of Finance (DOF) from the time he agreed to become the government’s fiscal czar, but that gave him leeway to assemble his dream team.
Recto will work mostly with the existing staff, many of whom are career officials, but the secretary is bringing a total of four new technocrats—three undersecretaries and one assistant secretary, all of whom were present during the Jan. 15 ceremony when predecessor Benjamin Diokno handed over the keys to the department.
We’ve earlier identified two of the incoming undersecretaries: Rolando Tungpalan (ex-National Economic and Development Authority undersecretary) and Joven Balbosa (ex-Asian Development Bank, World Bank, WI Carr).
Incumbent Finance Undersecretary Zeno Abenoja, meanwhile, is expected to return to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, where he was managing director at the economic research department before joining Diokno at the DOF in 2022.
The two other incoming DOF officials are Charlie Mendoza and Gerald Alan Quebral, both lawyers, who will team up to lead the crucial revenue operations group as undersecretary and assistant secretary, respectively. They are no stranger to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which will do the heavy lifting to raise trillions of pesos—and without new tax measures (as Recto has stated), that is.
Mendoza, who placed third at the 2004 bar exams (with a score of 86.75 percent), was a BOC collector and was assigned to Cebu Port at one point. He was an associate at the Angara Abello Concepcion Regala and Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW) and the Suarez and Narvasa Law Firm.
Quebral, a CPA-lawyer, had been a BIR revenue official for nearly two decades until 2010, when he joined the congressional oversight committee on taxation at the Senate.
All four technocrats are now just waiting for Malacañang to sign their appointment papers.
More importantly, Recto assured his team that he isn’t just warming the DOF bench and is keen on staying at the helm of the DOF till the end of President Marcos’ term (or for as long as the CEO of the land wants him there, of course). That means dropping his bid to run for Batangas governor in 2025. —Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
Pangandaman dreams for Mindanao
All the unnecessary talk about Mindanao seceding from the Philippines has been unsettling for Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, the first Muslim to hold the post and the only Filipina Muslim member of the Marcos Cabinet.
She proudly says that efforts at developing Mindanao under the Marcos administration’s Bagong Pilipinas banner are bearing fruit, and that the government will continue to work toward turning Mindanao “from a land of promise into a land of promises fulfilled.”
“Along with our leaders in BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), we have been working very hard to maintain and sustain peace in Mindanao while developing the region into a land of prosperity,” says Pangandaman, a Maranao.
Pangandaman reports that as co-chair of the Intergovernmental Relations Body for the National Government (IGRB), with Minister Mohaqher Iqbal for the side of BARMM, all seven mechanisms of the IGRB had been activated in less than a year, including holding the Philippine Congress-Bangsamoro Parliament Forum for the first time.
“We are even commemorating the establishment of Islam in the Philippines, to emphasize the importance of our Muslim heritage in Philippine history. All these efforts are directed at making Mindanao a shining example of peace and development in the Philippines,” she says.
“The future of Mindanao is bright and as long as we stay focused and united, I am confident that our dreams for the economic transformation and upliftment of this region will be fulfilled. Inshallah,” Pangandaman concludes. — Tina Arceo-Dumlao