Palace justifies ‘termination’ of DOF official critical of Marcos rice price cap

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Palace justifies �termination� of DOF official critical of Marcos rice price cap
During the Global Conference on the Future of Resource Taxation held in Lusaka, Zambia, June 20, 2023, Department of Finance Undersecretary and Philippine EITI Chairperson Cielo D. Magno expressed her confidence in the country's trajectory, which has been bolstered by significant interest from both local and international investors. She highlighted the emergence of policy innovations, such as exploring a windfall tax to compensate for reduced rates.
Philippine EITI / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has justified the “termination” of a ranking official at the Department of Finance, saying that she has long been unsupportive of the Marcos administration.

In a statement, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said that Finance Undersecretary Cielo Magno has been "against the policies of this administration and made it known to the public through social media long before the president even assumed office.” 

Magno has been allegedly asked to vacate her post by Malacañang due to a cryptic Facebook post alluding to the president’s imposition of a price cap on rice.

On the day Marcos ordered the price cap, Magno posted a photo on Facebook showing a chart that depicts the laws of supply and demand, which is also commonly used to graphically represent a shortage resulting from a price ceiling. The photo’s caption read: “I miss teaching.”

Magno was an associate professor at the University of Philippines School of Economics (UPSE) and will be returning there after her resignation.

"The termination of her appointment could only be expected as she clearly does not support the administration and its programs for nation-building," Bersamin said.

Magno had aired her concerns in “public fora” instead of “working with colleagues,” he added.

"While we support anyone's right to free speech, it would be counter intuitive to have someoneone be part of the administration who was clearly set on maligning it to begin with,” Bersamin said.

On Thursday morning, Magno posted: “A wise man told me, if you do your job with integrity, you will be back in UPSE soon.”

Magno's resignation will take effect on September 16.

Magno previously led discussions on the government’s plans to reform the military and uniformed personnel pension system. She also pushed for reforms in the mining tax regime, specifically higher mining taxation.

Marcos’ economic managers have publicly defended Executive Order No. 39, including Magno’s principal, DOF Chief Benjamin Diokno. 

“To manage upward pressures in rice prices, price controls on rice through EO No. 39 serves as a short-term measure against non-competitive practices by some market players,” Diokno tweeted on the first day the price cap took effect. 

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