Pour P75 B into M’danao with or without BBL

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - March 6, 2015 - 12:00am

READERS REACT to MRT-3 deterioration under Liberal Party-led maintenance contractors, PH Trams then Global Epcom (Gotcha, 2 Mar. 2016):

Gwen B.: “We get up as early as 5 a.m. to beat the traffic, only to be stressed by long waits for the train, and bruised during the terribly slow ride to work. Today (Mar. 2) not only the MRT-3 but also the LRT broke down, so our government is running out of alternatives.”

Virgilio Sotto: “Press Sec. Coloma blames MRT-3’s woes on the past admin that ended in June 2010. Did not this present P-Noy admin hire the LP-owned PH Trams in Oct. 2012 and Global in Aug. 2013?”

On P-Noy causing the Mamasapano debacle for letting his suspended pal Gen. Purisima lead the raid (Gotcha, 25 Feb. 2015):

Samuel Muro, Mapua Institute of Technology: “They should stop blaming each other because they can no longer solve the problem. In empowering a suspended general, P-Noy in effect said we can break the rules. In running the operation by himself, Purisima wrongly thought he knew everything.”

Norman Chan: “The Philippines truly is the world’s texting capital. Generals exchanged texts in raiding a terrorist lair, in seeking Army help, and in reporting to the Commander-in-Chief. A Cabinet man ‘resigned’ by text, and the President turned it down also by text.”

Enrique Labayen: “If I were Secretary Deles or Ferrer, I’d ask P-Noy why he okayed a raid that would endanger the peace talks, and why I was not consulted about the SAF’s need to coordinate with the MILF. Imagine what would have happened had the Mamasapano operation succeeded. P-Noy would be extolling – and reinstating – Purisima. He must have been mad that things didn’t turn out as planned. Was that why he snubbed the arrival of the SAF commandos’ remains?”

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To a bill to exempt from taxes congressman-boxing champ Manny Pacquiao’s upcoming prize fight with Floyd Mayweather, lesser mortals can only wonder: why are death and taxes certain for us, but not him?

Ship leasers are asking even grimmer: why is government taxing us to death?

The question stems from a new tax rule. The finance department is barring any more bareboat chartering unless the charterer pays the same VAT and duty for buying and importing the ship. Naturally ship leasers are moaning. Why must they be levied for a purchase they never made?

U-Sec. Carlo Carag is to blame, they say. The tax for bareboat charters is 4.5 percent, collected monthly. Five executive orders by three Presidents allow leasing of foreign vessels for domestic trade, so long as is posted a 150-percent re-export bond. That’s so investors who cannot yet afford to buy ships can first lease them for interisland use, until they grow big enough. Carag was the very approver of new and old charters – until this year. Recently he came up with a new rule. Leasers henceforth must pay 20-percent VAT plus import duties for their chartered vessels, unless they can show any law that exempts them from such.

But wait. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Should not Carag be the one to point out which provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code and the Tariff and Customs Code, if any, allow him to levy the sales VAT and import duty for a mere lease? In fact there’s a parallel case. Domestic airlines charter wide-bodied jets to beef up their fleets. They do not pay VAT and duties on the aircraft as if they bought them, only the usual taxes on leases.

The Maritime Industry Authority is interceding for the lessors and seafarers who would lose businesses and jobs. Carag’s purported reply is to point up the title in his business card: Undersecretary for Revenue Operations. Duh.

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Opposers of a Bangsamoro Basic Law are enemies of peace. That’s how Malacañang propagandizes the issue. It falls for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front trap. The separatist group stated at the Senate that it would remain at war till its BBL is enacted. So Malacañang is rushing Congress to do just that – enact – because under threat of war. Wimp!

Filipinos, more so Mindanaoans, want peace, but not rigidly via BBL. The bill is tricky. It would raise an enlarged Muslim Autonomous Region into a sub-state. That entity would have its own police, Commissions on Audit, Elections, Civil Service, and Ombudsman. It can levy its own taxes, and be exempt from budget department rules. It automatically would get P75 billion a year from the central government, the spending of which only its MILF-controlled assembly will decide. Violations of the Constitution – not peace – is guaranteed.

But if there’s P75 billion a year ready, then pour it right away into Muslim Mindanao, whether or not there’s a BBL. The money would go a long way to developing the area from poverty, ignorance, and neglect on which violence breeds.

Use the money right now to build highways, rails, bridges; piers, airports, buses; houses, schools, hospitals; waterworks, power plants, telecoms.

With such projects, Bangsamoros —Muslims, Christians, Lumad — would have jobs, from janitors and clerks to doctors and engineers, artists and musicians. The capable would have businesses to support the projects, from canteens and tailoring, to cement and semiconductor factories.

NGOs can erect Habitat for Humanity-type homes, with water and plumbing, electricity and Internet. Those who turn in at least two rifles can be eligible automatically to move in. Wives and children would pressure gun-crazy menfolk to trade weapons of war for wherewithal’s of peace.

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“I could have sworn they’re gay.” That’s murmured over and over about the very convincing roles of Michael de Mesa and Audie Gemora’s first stage team-up. In “La Cage Aux Folles.” Michael and Audie portray a gay couple needing to hide it to make their straight son’s wedding plans push through. But circumstances – they live beside and work in the can-can, the fiancé’s dad is a bigoted politico, the son’s plans are too “normal” – just won’t let it.

“La Cage” is 9 Works Theatrical’s adaptation of the three-time Tony Award winner for best musical. It’s so big a project to require an all-star cast, the help of Repertory Philippines for costumes and props, and the Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines for the finale.

Directed by Robbie Guevara, it runs Fridays to Sundays till end-March. For tickets and reservations, call (02) 5867105 or (0917) 5545560; TicketWorld (02) 8919999; info@9workstheatrical.com.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA

E-mail: jariusbondoc@gmail.com

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