MANILA MARCH 13, 2007 (STAR) TAKIN’ CARE OF BUSINESS By Babe Romualdez - The so-called "great debate" planned by Susing Pineda’s Philippines Inc. and Mike Varela’s Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) along with other big business groups will push through as originally planned tomorrow, Wednesday, at the Manila Hotel. There were a lot of backroom negotiations on a number of concerns, particularly regarding the topics that will be covered during the debate. It seemed like at every other turn, the Grand Opposition (GO) campaign manager, Serge "Dr. No" Osmeña, said no to almost everything, or simply had a negative view of the whole thing. There were even allegations that the business groups sponsoring the debate will skew the topics in favor of administration bets – which is simply unfair. Naturally the topics would center on business-related issues and how the senatorial hopefuls plan to map out the country’s economic path for the next few years. But that goes without saying that it’s the whole country’s future that is at stake here because whatever economic legislation these future senators make will have an impact on the people since the economy means business, and business means jobs that will give people money for food, education, housing, medicine and all these basic needs.

In spite of "Dr. No," the formal forum will push through and the opposition team’s Manny Villar, Loren Legarda and Chiz Escudero are expected to show up at the Manila Hotel. Even Congressman Allan Peter Cayetano had signified his intention to participate in the debate. Everyone from the Team Unity has also signified the intention to participate in the debate, which has become a greatly anticipated event because of the buzz that has been created. Three senatorial candidates from each side will be fielded to debate/dialogue on two major topics and three sub-topics, after which a group of panelists will be fielding questions to the participants. These panelists will be composed of a distinguished group from business, the academe and other sectors, which I am told includes respected economist, broadcast personality and UP professor Solita ""Mareng Winnie" Monsod, former Finance Secretary Ben Diokno, Dr. Cayetano Paderanga Jr. of the UP College of Economics and a host of others.

Mike Varela told us they have expanded the topics to accommodate some demands made by the opposition – so candidates can talk about anybody including Garci and Marcy or whoever. Those who still insist on holding the debate at a public place like Plaza Miranda will just have to wait until somebody comes up with the bright idea to produce something like a Philippine Political Idol contest, where the candidates can sing and dance on stage so people can choose their Top 12 by texting or phoning in their choices. We can even throw in Boy Abunda as host to add the personality that would make the show complete.

But seriously speaking, it’s really quite obvious businessmen want to know what these candidates have in mind for the country, and naturally they would be biased towards the economy since everything hinges on the successful implementation of economic measures that could change the lives of the people for the better. We have to remember that in a world turned global, we can not continue to be parochial with our views – we have to be attuned with what our neighbors are doing, making sure that our economy becomes more dynamic so we will not lag behind. The opposition can continue with plans for another impeachment attempt if they so decide, but I really wish they would also realize that the country will not be able to move forward if we continue to keep dragging all the heavy baggage of the past. The time to move on has come, and hopefully the coming elections will be an opportunity for everyone to forge an even better future for this country – and this "great debate" is a step towards that direction.

Son of a prominent family murdered

The son of Manila Rotarian Francisco "Don Paco" Delgado, Rico Delgado, was brutally murdered early Sunday morning as he came home to his apartment in Malate with his girlfriend. The murderers stabbed the victim several times in the neck, face and chest, with one hitting his heart. The girlfriend, who survived the attack, also had several stab wounds and was slashed on the face. There are speculations that the motive may have to do with a love triangle, while others believe it may have been a deal gone wrong. The perpetrators were obviously hired killers and may have even been high on drugs. It looks like "gun for hire" killers are prevalent in this country nowadays.

We can have all the right numbers but when somebody as prominent as Rico can get killed just like that, then economic numbers don’t mean nothing if one can easily become a dead number in the end. The NBI and the police better solve this mystery before this gets blown out of proportion – with businessmen and investors shying away from the country.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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