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Opinion

Why the dilly-dallying?

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

How come the Bureau of Customs (BOC) dilly-dallies in demanding payment from Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., concerning the amount of P141 billion in unpaid taxes?

The government could use that amount in these hard times.

BOC’s inaction is an outright disobedience to an order from the Department of Finance (DOF) to suspend the accreditation of Shell as an importer; doing so would compel the oil company to pay up.

Suspending the oil firm’s accreditation means that all its oil shipments will be held at any port of destination.

The customs bureau’s legal service seems to be the culprit. The suspension order from the DOF is pending at the legal service.

The Supreme Court recently lifted the temporary restraining order issued to the BOC to impose taxes on Shell pending an investigation into the firm’s claim that alkylate, a blending component to make oil, was not taxable.

The High Tribunal’s order implied that the BOC was right and that it may now demand payment from Shell for its back taxes.

Something’s fishy on the part of BOC in delaying the finance department’s order to suspend Shell’s import accreditation.

*      *      *

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has complained to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that some private companies require employees to show their vaccination cards before they could get their pay.

Labor Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello, a lawyer, seems to side with the TUCP, saying there is no law compelling people to get vaccinated.

We’re in a Catch-22 situation here, since in the absence of an enabling law, people can’t be required to get vaccination even if the dire times call for it.

I’m not a lawyer but methinks private companies have all the right to impose the “no jab, no pay” scheme on their employees.

Unvaccinated employees who deal with the public – especially those in the service industry like restaurants, beauty salons, spas, cinemas and mall-based stores – might be carriers of the COVID-19 virus and infect their customers.

As a customer myself, I would want people who serve me to be vaccinated against COVID-19; I’m playing safe as I’ve been vaccinated.

It’s also tit for tat; most restaurants and shops now require clients to show their vaccination cards before they’re allowed entry into their establishments.

*      *      *

News website Rappler, newspapers, television stations and other media outlets should never conduct pre-election surveys through Facebook.

Firstly, there are too many crackpots and trolls that use the social media networking site.

There are multiple Facebook accounts of such names as “Rat Bu” (Tagalog anagram for penis), “Epok” (anagram for a woman’s sex organ), “Modta” (anagram for semen) and other foolish names such as Ocina Pakhi, Aya Mohamed, Banzai (shortened Japanese term for ‘long live the emperor’).

Media outlets should just leave surveys to professional and reliable pollsters like SWS and Pulse Asia.

*      *      *

With millions of people out of jobs because of the pandemic, citizens who have extra money may want to contribute their share to ease the hunger pangs among our unfortunate brethren.

Let’s not rely on the government’s cash assistance or ayuda since it can’t cover all the hungry masses.

If you don’t want to give directly to impoverished families for one reason or the other, you can course your cash or food donations through religious groups and charitable organizations.

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and various religious groups, charitable institutions and some churches do mass feeding or distribute food packs to the poor in these critical times. The PRC’s Quezon City chapter, for example, conducts mass feeding and delivers relief goods to poor communities.

Some examples of religious groups: The Redemptorist church in Baclaran, Parañaque and the various capillas (chapels) of the Iglesia ni Cristo give away relief goods to their faithful and even outsiders.

As the Great Carpenter said, “Whatever you do for the least of your brethren, you do for Me.”

Religious issues aside, when you contribute to alleviate the hunger of people rendered jobless because of the pandemic, you in effect contribute to preventing incidents of robbery and theft in these trying times.

A hungry stomach knows no law, as a saying goes.

Queen Marie Antoinette of France was told that people were hungry and she replied, “Let them eat cake.”

Supposedly, the queen’s uncalled-for remark so angered the poor it contributed to the French Revolution (1789-1799) that toppled the aristocracy.

*      *      *

Six Manila policemen were arrested for allegedly extorting money from a curfew violator in Sta. Cruz, Manila, Thursday last week.

The cops – Patrolmen Kenneth Cordova and Danny Rangaig; Corporals Johndee Toledo, Jigie Azores and Kevin Villanueva; and S/Sgt. Jeffrey Mejia – have since been disarmed and had charges filed against them. All were from the Padre Algue community precinct in the Sta. Cruz district.

For a minor violation, the cops allegedly demanded from Jericho Laniog P47,000 for his release.

Those erring cops remind me of the policemen at the Sta. Mesa station who apprehended a gay man and his lover aboard a taxicab that was about to enter a motel compound some years ago.

What crime did the two commit? Nothing, except that the policemen were apparently having fun.

The cops tried to force the gay man to have oral sex with his partner in front of them after they ordered the couple to clean the station’s toilet and kitchen.

But the most reprehensible act the cops did was to confiscate a cellphone and P5,500 cash from the gay man; and they demanded more money.

The poor man, who was a mechanic, had to phone his sister to come to the station with a piggy bank filled with P1,500 in coins!

I got the story from the gay man himself as he complained to my “Isumbong mo kay Tulfo” public service show.

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