Benedict is an agricultural economist, academician and writer. He has gained experience and expertise in various fields of economics, business, political science and public relations after through professional ventures in the academe, and in the public and private sectors. He has authored or co-authored key publications on topics ranging from agriculture and food security to global affairs and politics. 

 
Millennial Talk is about the insights coming from the younger generation.

With the government in need of money, maybe a "junk food tax" measure is a better source of revenue compared to imposing taxes on items such as telecommunications-related products or services and barter trade. However, the imposition of such tax measures should result to increased access to food and beverage that meet nutritional standards for Filipinos instead of causing food insecurity to a large number of people, especially the poor.

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Fighting COVID-19 and fighting for national survival is a shared responsibility of both the government and Filipino citizens, and I hope it is not too late for everyone to realize that and do something about it.

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President Duterte himself said many times that he is going to and will protect the rights of the Filipino people as provided for by the laws of the land. It only goes to show that claims that press freedom and democracy in the Philippines are being threatened under the Duterte administration are nothing but an innuendo.

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Our survival as a nation and as a people is still at stake. The shift to GCQ from ECQ or MECQ is not the "new normal." We will only achieve the goal of finally being under such state if we will together, cooperate with our leaders, follow the rules, and think of how our actions affect not only our loved ones but also other people and the community.

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As some would say, there is always a silver lining to things. The COVID-19 situation helped me to prove the importance of securing domestic food sources, keeping domestic food production, and prioritizing agriculture and rural development.

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The COVID-19 situation brought the good and the bad out of Filipinos. Despite the situation not being easy, it seems that most Filipinos are still able to weather the storm, although many, especially displaced workers from small businesses, senior citizens and the real "poorest of the poor", need assistance that they can get not only from the government but even from their countrymen who happen to have extra at this time.

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Hopefully the "Balik Probinsya" will finally gain traction, leading to realization of long overdue economic growth and development, and prosperity being achieved by the provinces and the people living in the rural areas. It is time for President Duterte, Senator Go and others pushing for this plan to walk their talk.

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The Filipinos, the "Mexicans of Asia," as how my friends and colleagues in Singapore would describe us, are a disgrace. We really have no sense of nation and no sense of communitarianism. If we end up like the Italians, who are being killed mercilessly by COVID-19 in large numbers, the blame is solely on us because we are too immature as a nation and as a people, and are shamelessly proud of our immaturity.

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The Philippines and the rest of the world is suddenly facing an unseen enemy and dealing with a situation full of uncertainties. It is not just about containing the spread of the disease and finding a vaccine. It is now about humanity fighting for its survival.

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With President Duterte emphasizing the need to pursue an independent foreign policy, it is time for the Philippines to do away with the Cold War-era mentality of building alliances with a few and instead seek partnerships with many. It is through partnerships, not alliances, that will help the Philippines stand on its own in rebuilding and constantly evolving its the strength of its military and economy.

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While it is right and just to protect the rights and privileges of the Filipinos, it is a different story when the same are being used to justify a wrongful act or a form protection from lawful scrutiny.

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We Filipinos should get our acts together as a nation, society and people. We should be ashamed of ourselves with this folly that is of our own creation. We should be working as one in dealing with the 2019-NCoV situation just like what China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and other countries are doing.

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