One-sided fights

CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - April 19, 2017 - 12:00am

I recently saw a post on Facebook taken from what appeared to be an old local Bloomberg report out of Cebu where Mayor Tommy Osmeña was at odds with BDO concerning appropriate tax matters since January of this year. After watching the post, I was reminded of my experience in Busuanga and Coron, Palawan where I was involved in building one resort called “Club Paradise” and later a Bed & Breakfast on another location.

During the process of construction and preparation to receive tourists, I was constantly at odds with the developer and his team of accountants who kept asking why the company had to buy fuel, borrow the town bulldozer, and pay laborers for road repair from the Busuanga Airport on Yulo King Ranch down to the river. Then they started to complain when a 500-meter footbridge for guests and locals alike, had to be built over the Mangrove area at the company’s expense. After a while I just got fed up and told my investor friend that the reason all these things always comes “out of pocket” for the company is because the companies pay taxes in Makati and not in the tiny little town of Coron or Busuanga. The Mayors neither had the money or motivation to fix or build things that would essentially be more useful and profitable for the resorts but not for the towns or their politicians.

In hindsight, it was ironic that the company was “taking advantage” of Coron and Busuanga’s beautiful beaches, islands and using these to attract tourists and making money or running a business out of it all but not really making a major contribution to the town. Many years later, as I travelled more around the Philippines, I discovered the very same “Corporate Sin” being committed by companies regarding where they pay their corporate or income tax and how much of this goes to their host town, city, island or locality.

All this happens because most accountants and auditors don’t want to travel outside their comfort zone or do business with strangers. They’re happy with the devil they know. In fact they also work into their contracts and agreements that if any legal issues arise “they” have the right to fight in their backyard or home turf! So if you want to sue, you have to go to court where they are big taxpayers and have essentially bought up all the high priced lawyers by way of monthly retainers. There is something very one-sided and legally wrong about it that Congress has to fix through legislation.

To make matters worse, companies always make it appear as if the host LGU should be grateful for the “jobs” that outsider companies supposedly create. The fact of the matter is that local hires are paid cheaper salaries and get fewer benefits than “Metro” employees, but they require less maintenance plus help cut down on the excessive costs of travel and accommodation.

Twenty-six years later, I have yet to hear about any law that requires companies to pay taxes where their customers go and receive the products and services they have paid for. Put a stop to the loophole that the original transaction is done or coursed or processed in an office in Metro Manila. Enough of the one-sided system! Members of Congress must put a stop to the EXPLOITATION Now!

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Late last year, I wrote an article concerning the problems of DepEd officials who have been placed as OICs or acting capacity for schools division superintendent or heads. As a result, Senator Trillanes reached out and wrote a letter to DepEd Secretary Briones to raise the problems I wrote in the column.

I appreciate the fact that Senator Trillanes did “something” but that something was tantamount to sending the problem back to the very organization being victimized or suffering from the problem. DepEd was not the cause of delayed promotions; Malacañang was and still is. DepEd has no power over the NBI or the Office of the Ombudsman concerning their permits and clearances that have six-month shelf life versus the open-ended time it takes the executive department to do their job or address the documents sent to them.

What I had hoped was that the action oriented members of the Senate like Trillanes, Recto, Lacson etc., would have called for an investigation on the matter and called in people from various government agencies. The last thing I expected was for the good Senator to recycle the article just like a rejected application with the mark: “Return To Sender.” Albert Einstein had something to say about such matters: “We cannot solve a problem from the same thinking we used when we created it.”

It seems to me that our legislators work only on two sets of legislative agenda. The first would be their pet bills covering issues and concerns they lived through or have a background on. The second are controversial issues that bring in the hordes of reporters and cameramen and give them their two minutes of fame from time to time. But during the Holy Week break, it occurred to me that our legislators should build up the idea of “Consultation in aid of legislation.” They should dedicate a certain day of the week or dates in a month for “open door” consultations. In all the years I’ve been in media, I have never once heard of legislators inviting media practitioners to take part in a focused group discussion. In the “olden days” I heard about presidents and legislators privately consulting members of media over dinner, to get a feel of public interest, needs and sentiments.

We seriously need to upgrade our mental IOS in order to better serve the people and build a better country.

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Email: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com



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