EVAT suspension on fuel, power could stave off firestorm
THE SOUTHERN BEAT - THE SOUTHERN BEAT By Rolly Espina () - October 27, 2005 - 12:00am
Sen. Richard Gordon’s compromise proposal to suspend the EVAT on fuel and power and to tax text messages may just help stave off a potential firestorm with the implementation of the EVAT by All Saints’ Day. And provide the administration a way out of an embarrassing situation, too.

But the Senate must act on it. And perhaps, bureaucrats could abandon their airconditioned aeries and ponder the implications of what the senator has been advocating.

Off-hand, the problem boils down to taxing wants instead of needs. In short, one can forego text messages but cannot live without fuel and power. The latter are needs.

If one were to impose a tax of P1 per text message, this could generate P80 billion to P90 billion per annum. That could fund the construction of 39,000 schoolrooms, the upgrading of the training of teachers, and even set aside P4 billion for the ethanol program of the government that could provide alternative energy for our vehicles.

Thus, for Gordon, this will only result in a one-year shot in the arm for government finances. By next year, the tax collection can be used to fund other programs such as the upgrading of health facilities and even the training of doctors, nurses, etc. And provide alternative fund sources for other vital social services, too.

But the more important consideration now is for government technocrats to look at the problem of how to shield the ordinary man from the impact of EVAT on fuel and power. This is something that will inevitably spur price increases in basic commodities even if some government technocrats claim that the impact would be minimal.

The reason: It seems only a handful have realized that while agricultural commodities are exempt from VAT, how about the cost of transportation? And the cost of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers?

Sugarmen of Negros Occidental immediately realized the importance of the Gordon proposal, which provides a way out for the administration whose bright heads may have overlooked the EVAT’s implications. Thus, members of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations Inc. (Confed), paced by Rey Bantug, have been urging Negrenses to support the Gordon proposal.

E.B. Magalona Mayor Alfonso Gamboa, for example, is also urging local executives to throw their support behind the move and to urge the Senate to approve the Gordon plan before Nov. 1.

"This is the only alternative," said Gamboa yesterday as we discussed the Gordon proposal.

It’s time anyway for people to discuss the compromise formula if only to salvage the situation before it gets out of hand.

Heaven, help this country!
Row over Capiz’s ‘Aswang’ Festival
I still have to monitor the impact of the Lupad Capiznon Festival of Capiz by the weekend following the convoy of some 200 vehicles dramatizing the opposition to what has been commonly known as Capiz’s "Aswang" Festival.

As reported by Felipe Cano of the PFI Visayas bureau, one caravan was initiated by the Capiz Archdiocese following a pastoral letter issued by Archbishop Onesimo Gordoncillo last Oct. 16 condemning the festival set on Oct. 28-30.

Roxas City Mayor A. del Rosario, however, previously said that he has not authority to ban the festival.

The Dugong Capiznon, the sponsor of the festival, had changed it to Lupad Capiznon (Fly, Capiznon). But that still failed to alter the perception that the festival will still focus on the province as the "home" of the legendary blood suckers who prey on the internal organs of babies.

Actually, in Western Visayas, aswang is "witch." But in the case of Capiz, legend tells that they are usually old witches, who fly off by separating their upper bodies from their lower limbs and then search for preys. They are supposed to be nocturnal creatures.

But that’s beside the point. DCI director Arnel Estiaga was earlier quoted as saying that the organization just wants to turn the negative notion of aswang into an advantage and to encourage the promotion of the culture and boost the progress and economy of Capiz through tourism.

But the fact that the caravan included Roxas City Vice Mayor Allan Celino, Panay Mayor Felipe Baredo, board members Enrique Martin and Fernando Altobano as well as Capiz archdiocesan coordinator Msgr. John Luza may have an impact on the projected festivities.

The caravan toured the first district towns of Capiz. It culminated at the city plaza. The participants later attended a Mass at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

Well, let’s see whether that caravan by mostly Catholic and Protestant leaders of the province would register an impact on the weekend celebration. One, however, suspects that the protest may actually succeed in drawing more people into Roxas City, curious to find out what the hullabaloo is all about.
Death mars UNI Games
More than a thousand athletes from all over the country have been attending the University Games, which started here last weekend. But the death of Mr. Football, Orlando Plagata, coach of the Far Eastern University football squad, last Monday marred the athletic activities.

Plagat was found dead inside his room at the Belle’s Pension House at 3 p.m. last Monday by FEU football officials who missed him during the previous game of the Manila university.

Dr. Ely Cong of the Bacolod City health office, who conducted the autopsy on Plagata, said he succumbed to a massive cerebral hemorrhage. The FEU football coach was a diabetic.

Plagat was brought home to Iloilo City last Tuesday afternoon to allow his relatives to pay their last respects to him. He will be transferred to Manila later.

FEU assistant coach Rodrigo Alegante said the FEU squad is dedicating all their games to Plagata.

"Football was his life," said the captain of the FEU football team. Most of the Manila players, incidentally, reportedly came from the provinces.

Plagata, however, was famous among Negrense football fans. He won notice here during his stint as mentor of the Borato Nuevo football players during several matches in Negros Occidental.

As a matter of fact, the UNI Games’ secretary-general said the last time he talked with Plagata, they discussed a possible reunion of older coaches in Bacolod.

ADDENDA: The Ombudsman-Visayas dismissed recently the administrative and criminal complaints filed by city accountant Pioquito Quinones against City Mayor Evelio Leonardia due to insufficient evidence. Instead, Deputy Ombudsman Primo Miro said Leonardia was justified in relieving Quinones of his functions and requiring him to comply with the requirements of the Commission on Audit. Miro also recommended that the case be docketed for the purpose of monitoring the compliance by the city accountant of the Audit Observation Memorandum issued by the COA, and if evidence warrants, file possible administrative charges against Quinones for negligence and incompetence… Alarming. That’s the only thing one can say about the report of Oriental Negros veterinarian Antonio Mutia that his personnel lack the technical knowhow in handling birds and poultry infected with bird flu. Mutia said he has requested the agriculture department to conduct a comprehensive training among veterinary personnel on how to deal with the situation. He pointed out that he himself, as head of the Provincial Task Force on Bird Flu, is not yet conversant with how to determine whether a bird is infected with bird flu. He said migratory birds have been noted in Tanjay and Bais areas in Oriental Negros, but admitted that "we do not know what to do if migratory birds stop over in our areas of responsibility." That’s the thing that DA officials should pay attention to. How can you prevent bird flu when field personnel do not have the rudimentary knowledge of what to do or how to detect the bird flu virus.

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