The ANC Brief: Sept. 18, 2018


Posted at Sep 18 2018 04:04 AM

There’s tragedy on the slopes of Itogon, Benguet and misery in parts of northern Luzon as the region reels from Typhoon Ompong. Those stories will dominate ANC’s headlines for today:

Rescuers search for those buried under the landslide in Itogon. ABS-CBN News

Race against time

Time might be running out for those buried in the Itogon landslide. Mayor Victorio Palangdan said it’s unlikely any of the 40 to 50 people said to be buried in a huge landslide are still alive. The situation could shift to retrieval operations. The narrative is also shifting to mining. Palangdan also said Benguet Corp. did not rehabilitate the mined area after it was abandoned. In a statement, the company said their mining operations in the area stopped in the 90s after which small-scale miners encroached on the area. The Chamber of Mines called on government to strengthen its campaign against illegal small-scale mining. The DENR also suspended small-scale mining in the area as a result of the landslide. Anti-mining advocates are calling for the government to put a stop to irresponsible mining.

Time for closure

In a briefing in Itogon, the president repeated his call to close all mining operations in the country. In the past, he threatened to close all open pit mines. Let’s see if he will push the envelope and go after mining again, this time with more force. The Palace also defended the president’s rant against COA. Former COA official Heidi Mendoza rose to defend the agency, whose primary function to check government spending seems lost on the Chief Executive. The president will be in Isabela at 1 p.m. ANC will air any briefing he might give as he assesses the damage in that area. 

Time and money

According to the Department of Agriculture, the initial estimate of damage is at P14 billion. Experts are predicting inflation will stay at current elevated levels, rather than tapering towards the end of the year as was the initial assessment. Continued elevated inflation numbers could erode consumer spending power and increase pressure on the BSP to raise interest rates again. There will be a 1 p.m. investor relations press conference with the country’s economic managers in attendance. Inflation is sure to be discussed. ANC’s Business group will cover this event and will provide updates.

File photo of House Speaker Arroyo. ABS-CBN News

Money matters in the House

Plenary deliberations on the budget exposed up to P55 billion worth of projects in the 2019 that were earmarked for between 40 to 50 congressmen of the previous House leadership of Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez. This supposedly led to an ouster attempt directed at House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who wanted the projects realigned to other congressmen. Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Karlo Nograles supposedly called for a closed-door executive session to without the knowledge of Arroyo in a bid to oppose the realignment. Nograles claimed the funds had the approval from the Palace. But Arroyo’s camp disputed this. It looks like Arroyo will get her way. ANC will try to dig deeper on the main event, which is the budget alignments. Are these funds being aligned legally and properly? How will these funds be spent? Are these funds going to be used properly even as the northern Luzon area is in need of relief from the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong? But we will also keep an eye on the side show, which is the struggle for the House leadership.