The ANC Brief: Sept. 28, 2018


Posted at Sep 28 2018 12:34 AM

A presidential confession amid an economy trying to stay afloat in the face of rising inflation and a floundering currency. Here are the stories making the headlines on ANC today:

President Rodrigo Duterte. Robinson Ninal, Malacanang Photo/file

 Stunning admission or joke?

President Duterte’s last speech in the Palace was another fine collection of quotable quotes. While attacking Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, President Duterte said his "only sin" is extrajudicial killings as collateral damage in the war on drugs. It's a stunning admission. Expect the Palace to explain away the statement with familiar refrains: the President was only joking, that he shouldn’t be taken seriously, that we need to understand the context, so on and so forth. The President also joked about the rice crisis, saying it was the fault of the growing number of drug addicts in rehab centers. Hardly the right time to be joking about this issue as the people suffer due to high rice prices. He also said he tried to offer his resignation to military and police in the past. In addition, the President also said he was tempted to lash out at former UN Human Rights Commision (UNHCR) High Commissioner and Jordanian Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein during the President’s visit to Jordan. The prince, a vocal critic of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, once said President Duterte should undergo a psychiatric test. Meanwhile, the Palace said it would drop its federalism project to address inflation first.

Word war erupts again

Makati RTC Judge Andres Soriano who is tasked to resolve the coup d’etat case of Sen. Antonio Trillanes said he might decide whether to issue an arrest warrant for the lawmaker next week. One of the lawmaker's lawyers, former UP Law dean Pacifico Agabin, said another judge hearing the rebellion case against Trillanes is reversing himself, adding Judge Elmo Alameda had already dismissed the rebellion case. Meanwhile, another word war erupted between Trillanes and Solicitor General Jose Calida, who said Trillanes should apologize for calling Calida a “thief” for stealing Trillanes’ amnesty papers. Trillanes said there will be no apology.

Another rate hike

The BSP makes its most aggressive interest hikes in a long time as it tries to stem the effects of rising inflation and to prop up the struggling peso. On Thursday, the hike was 50 basis points. The last time the BSP carried out such aggressive moves was in 2000 with back-to-back hikes of 4 and 1 percentage points. The BSP also maintained its growth forecast despite inflation and rising interest rates. Many agree these aggressive moves are coming a little too late and has the BSP still running behind the curve. While the markets may have priced in these moves already, the market's movement the morning after will still be interesting to watch. The BSP is also set to release month-ahead inflation forecast range for September. Inflation was forecasted to peak in September or October.

Another anniversary

It's the anniversary of the death of former President Ferdinand Marcos but judging from the recent anniversary of martial law, there are still some raw wounds from the Marcos rule. Marcos loyalist Cherry Cobarrubias will be guest on ANC’s Early Edition to talk about the Marcos legacy and the return of the Marcos family to prominence.

Another fly-by

The US conducted two bomber flights over parts of the South China Sea the past week. Defense Sec. Jim Mattis said there was nothing unusual in the flights. China criticized the US over the flights. The two superpowers have been doing this back and forth on the South China Sea. Will the balance of power in the region finally shift or will it be more of status quo? Either way, how will it impact the Philippines and its claims on the area and relations with both countries?