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Paging Secretary Yasay

  • Written by Ignacio Bunye
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 162

MY item last week on the much-improved NBI Clearance section  drew many more favorable reader reactions  for other government agencies -- such as  NSO, PhilHealth,  LTO -- which were praised for  their fast, efficient and courteous service.

But reader Sandy Sierra still has some serious issues with  the Department of Foreign Affairs. She complains about the very long waiting period just to get an appointment for the issuance of passports. 

Ms. Sierra writes:
   
“Please check on DFA. It seems their new server is a big failure. Initially, system was down more than 5 weeks a couple of months back; till now the appointment schedule is a mess. Waiting time is approximately 2 months for individuals and for travel agency is about a month. If Pres. Digong would know about it, I’m sure they will be sacked!  The shift from Teleserve to Apo is a joke!
   
“Incredible delay, unimaginable incompetence! I have reported it to 8888 but I haven’t had a feedback yet. I expected a call last Nov. 10 or 11 but none as of now.”
   
In the case of the  Bureau of Internal Revenue,  Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez has  some immediately doable suggestions  to improve the BIR’s image and  tax collection efforts. Bottom line: Make it easy for the taxpayers.
   
Secretary Dominguez advises:
   
“There are a few more things that can be done (immediately).
   
“We can have cleaner, airier and more welcoming offices, for instance. Let the taxpayers breathe. You are collecting their money after all.
   
“There must be a way to eliminate long lines at the BIR offices. Why punish them when they have come to pay?
   
“And, yes, even the BIR can hire a visual artist or copy editors to simplify the confounding forms that our taxpayers have to fill. I was informed that Former Chairman of SGV Gloria Climaco in the past filled out her own BIR forms. Now she has to hire an accountant to do it. So I hope that simplified forms for smaller companies or individuals can be made. There is really no need to make our clients feel exasperated trying to fill up the forms.”

When Press Secs meet
   
Press secretaries -- past and present -- met in a quiet social dinner last week just to exchange notes with the incumbent. Discussions  touched on a wide range of domestic and international issues, but everything off the record.
   
The press secs came from 7 administrations -- Kit Tatad (President Marcos), Adolf Azcuna (President Cory) ,  Chito Villanueva (President Ramos), Mike Toledo (President Erap), Toting Bunye and Jun Icban  (President Arroyo), Sonny Coloma (PNoy) and Martin Andanar, the evening’s host (President Duterte).
   
Commissioned to organize the event  was former Press Undersecretary Deedee Siytangco (who served under President Cory).  Deedee even managed to invite some former members of the Malacañan “brat pack” -- Ichu Villañueva (Philippine Star) and DJ Sta. Ana (TV5).
   
Dinner venue was XO 46 Bistro Filipino at the newly-opened Conrad Hotel. XO 46 Bistro Filipino boasts of  a mini-version of the Malacañan State Room (complete with replicas of  state room furniture plus  a giant portrait of  (who else?) President Rody Duterte and past presidents.  XO 46 owners  Andrew and Sandy Masigan served a selection of dishes culled  from President Aguinaldo’s 1898 inauguration menu.
   
The press secs -- of various political persuasions -- were divided on a number of issues but were  unanimous on one thing: It was a dinner to remember. 

Correction
   
Last week, I erroneously stated that Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by as many as 2 million popular votes. Later reports (after I have submitted my article) indicated, however, that Clinton edged out Trump by only between 670,000 and 1 million votes.
   
Be that as it may,  the popular vote edge did not really matter. Trump ran away with the electoral college votes, 290-232.
   
Now, some sectors are advocating a  switch to the “more democratic” method of electing  US presidents via popular votes.

Trump one-liners
   
I could not help laughing out loud upon reading  these one-liners  from my friend Gary Lising:
   
“Trump’s favorites: favorite toy -- trumpo, favorite musical instrument -- trumpeta, favorite mobile sound system -- trompa, favorite exerciser -- trampoline, favorite song -- “The lady is a Trump.”
   
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