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Opinion

Paying ‘revolutionary taxes’

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

In an ideal world, supporting groups that are considered terrorists is reprehensible, censurable, objectionable and offensive.

But in the Philippine setting, giving support to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA) and National Democratic Front (NDF) is practical, particularly if one has businesses in areas where the above-cited groups hold sway.

Mining, construction and transportation firms, as well as telecommunications companies, are forced to pay “revolutionary taxes” to the CPP/NDF/NPA, to save their employees and equipment from being harassed by these dissident groups.

How many passenger buses were put to the torch, communication towers toppled and very heavy equipment used by mining and construction firms destroyed, because their companies in Manila were late in paying “revolutionary taxes,” or did not pay protection money to those groups?

Policemen and government soldiers cannot guard all areas all of the time.

Even candidates for elective offices are forced to shell out money to the NPA for permission to campaign in areas controlled by the armed group.

Now, if the government can assure businesses of 24/7 protection in remote areas, then giving money to the rebels becomes treason, and should be punished to the fullest.

For the moment, the government may prefer to leave well enough alone until it has solved the insurgency problem.

*      *      *

Whose harebrained idea was it making our currency bills polymer or plastic?

Plastic bills, although not easily torn, would be thick, making them difficult to fit in a wallet because they’re very hard to fold.

Plastic bills are harder to count by hand because they’re slippery.

Plastic bills are sticky when wet, making them a problem for sorting machines.

In a tropical country like the Philippines, the colors of plastic bills tend to fade.

Plastic bills are just too impractical for Filipinos.

*      *      *

I can understand why the Bangko Sentral wants to go with plastic in our currency bills.

Filipinos crumple paper bills as if they‘re waste paper. This happens every time in a sabungan (cockfighting arena), where aficionados throw paper bills at one another; losers throw crumpled bills to winners.

By crumpling paper bills, Filipinos in effect tell the Universe that paper money is worthless and fit to be thrown into a waste basket.

When we disrespect money by crumpling it like wastepaper, money runs away from us.

Is this the reason why this country and most of its citizens are wretchedly poor?

*      *      *

There are many other ways Filipinos disrespect money.

For one, stall owners in wet markets give damp bills for change. This is the reason a lot of our paper bills stink.

Jeepney drivers and bus conductors place paper money between their fingers to give change to their passengers.

Years ago, a friend brought thousands of pesos in Hong Kong and converted the Philippine peso bills into Hong Kong dollars in one of the many currency exchange shops in the tourist district.

My friend didn’t have enough time to buy Hong Kong or US dollars for the trip.

I was embarrassed when the teller, who counted the peso bills, had to wear a face mask as the bills were all crumpled and stinky.

When I told my friend later about the teller’s behavior, he said, “What can I do if our money looks good for the dump?”

The Hong Kong dollar bills that were exchanged for our money were all crisp.

*      *      *

For the economy to recover and accelerate, the people should consider COVID-19 as “endemic” or common.

This was proposed by Karl Kendrick Chua, chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and socio-economic planning secretary.

Chua says our people should live with the fact that COVID-19 will be here to stay.

“The reality today is that the virus is not going to go away easily. And we will have to live with it for a longer period of time, similar to, perhaps, the flu. And to live with this, we have to change our metrics, focus on vaccination and focus on minimizing severe and critical cases, and also deaths,” Chua said.
Singapore and Portugal, for example, consider the coronavirus as the common flu.

Chua observed that countries which treat COVID-19 as an endemic disease have made strides in returning public transport and mobility, as well as reopening schools and economic sectors like travel and tourism.

Secretary Chua’s proposal runs counter to the stand of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF), which wants our borders closed to tourists and travelers, and prohibits domestic travel by bus.

Chua is an economics expert while IATF’s Carlito Galvez is a square peg in a round hole, since he’s not a medical expert.

Anyway, what can we expect from a retired military general?

*      *      *

San Beda University, President Digong’s alma mater, is openly supporting presidential aspirant Leni Robredo.

Nothing wrong with that, but why make it public?

Aren’t colleges and universities apolitical?

Since San Beda is publicly endorsing Robredo, who is not an alumna, is it supporting Davao City Mayor and vice-presidential candidate Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio, a graduate of the university’s law school?

If it’s not supporting presidential daughter Sara Duterte, then the university is an ingrate!

Many Cabinet members, bureau directors and members of the judiciary appointed by Digong are San Beda alumni.

In fact, before Mr. Duterte became president, San Beda was practically an unheralded institution of learning unlike the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, University of Sto. Tomas and De La Salle University.

It practically became well-known overnight after many of its alumni were appointed as members of the Duterte administration.

Because many of the current officials are alumni of the university, San Beda has become synonymous with the Duterte administration.

Given the above-cited facts, San Beda should have been neutral.

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