On the confirmation of the Appointment
of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III
While the nominee is not the youngest conscript in the Cabinet, he certainly is among the wisest.
If the present crew of secretaries has been referred to as the professors who had replaced the student council, he can be considered their dean.
His mere presence alone in the Cabinet is enough to calm the market and assure investors whenever The Punisher throws a tantrum.
He is The Pacifier who brings a tranquilizing effect when business gets the jitters – and he does it without even uttering a single word.
If he is seen as someone or the only one who can exercise adult supervision in the highest office in the land, it is because his impressive resume demonstrates that capability.
This is the third Cabinet portfolio he has held, and it seems that he has reserved the hardest for last.
His former jobs dealt with basic needs: putting food on the table as Agriculture secretary, and, as Environment secretary, making sure that the air we breathe was clean.
But in the priority of things, none is as basic as his present calling, which is to raise funds, from which all its activities spring.
This is the guy responsible for raising the trillions of pesos in the national budget we are about to debate.
This is the guy who will put money in pay envelopes of government employees and in bank accounts of LGUs.
This is the guy responsible for translating every politician’s – including ours’ and the President’s – campaign rhetoric into reality.
Because in the division of labor in spending money, while it is the President who gets the credit, it is he who must raise the cash.
And how much? Ten billion pesos a day lang naman next year to finance the national budget. I repeat: ten billion pesos a day.
And such is not an easy job to do in a culture which sees spending taxes as a virtue, but collecting them a sin; which treats their evasion as a duty, but their imposition a crime.
Because of this, he may soon find out, if he still hasn’t, that gun range targets, no matter how small, are easier to hit than bigger revenue goals.
I have mentioned that, Mr. President, because the nominee shoots trap well, which, according to the CA Secretariat report, he does to relieve stress, which means, he does often these days – hopefully still with clay targets and not with underperforming underlings.
Some say that the nominee’s entry into the DOF signals the start of a very taxing season. I beg to disagree. He has spent most of his years in the private sector and he knows that nothing dampens both labor and capital more than a government that is in-tax-icated.
His stints in the private sector span diverse undertakings – from bananas to banks, planes to plantations, mines to hotels, retail shops to realty companies.
In short, in search for the honest buck, he has gone to the bowels of the earth, worked the soil, and even flew the skies. Which also explains why he can be as tough as a consiglieri one moment and as charming as a hotel concierge the next.
I have told the nominee, Mr President, that I won’t be able to support all his tax proposals.
I have told him that no Senate was ever a bulwark of taxation. And this one is no exception.
To every overture of a new tax, the Senate’s reply has never been of ratification but of restraint.
The Senate’s role has always been to temper, not top, executive proposals. We have never treated taxation as an auction where we must outbid the executive.
We have maintained that stance because we recognize that while paying taxes may be the first duty of citizenship, ordering more of it should be Congress’s last.
But there is one thing on which we agree absolutely 100 percent.
And that concerns a brilliant, kind, and handsome young man who is getting a Physics degree in the US. This young fellow, Armand, is his apo – the child of his son – and also my nephew, because the mother is my sister.
We have long compromised that the young fellow is the combination of the best Recto-Dominguez genes.
And I know that Armand’s future will be better than what we have today because of the labors of his lolo, whose loyalty to the country is beyond question and whose devotion to work is without doubt.
While the nominee accepted this job with so much reluctance, I, however, have none whatsoever in fully endorsing Mr. Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez as Secretary of Finance of the Republic.