Avoid paying taxes once Maharlika steals our pensions

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

Our pension, health and housing contributions are in peril. This, after Malacañang and Congress railroaded passage of the Maharlika Investment Fund.

They pretended to heed public outcry. At first, they excluded from capitalizing Maharlika with our SSS, GSIS, PhilHealth, Pag-Ibig, OWWA and PVAO. But by slyly including the words “may” and “option,” they will still take our money.

Their greed is insatiable. In the Legislature they steal hundred billion-peso flood control and roadwork funds. In the Executive they pocket procurement kickbacks and confidential-intelligence funds.

Now they will take even our hard-earned cash for health care, home buying, college, retirement, burial and emergencies. After all, it’s they who appoint administrators of our fund contributions.

Last November the House of Reps hastily enacted Maharlika for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s trip to Davos. Last Wednesday, May 31, the Senate rushed its version for Marcos Jr.’s second State of the Nation.

But Maharlika is not just for presidential vanity. It is, as objectors warn, for “crony capitalism.”

Critics coined that term during the dictatorship of Marcos Jr.’s father. Marcos Sr. granted behest loans to golfing buddies from government-run pensions and -owned banks PNB, DBP, Landbank.

Those loans supposedly were to benefit Filipinos through industrial investments. The First Couple and cronies instead divvied up the cash to amass castles, mansions, ranches, private jets, limos, art masterpieces, jewelry, fur coats and 3,000 pairs of shoes.

A Malaysian politico recently was caught pillaging the One MDB sovereign fund. Prime Minister Najib Razak and wife are in prison for absconding with $1.25 billion. Stashed in their manor were suitcases of cash, jewelry, fur coats, wristwatches, signature bags and shoes.

Philippine courts have regained P174-billion Marcos Sr. loot. Still to be recovered is P125 billion. Eerily that missing amount is the same Maharlika initial capital to be taken from DBP, Landbank, Bangko Sentral. It’s equivalent to $2.5 billion, double the 1MDB hoard.

Marcos Jr. will sit as or appoint the Maharlika chairman. He will pick the directors, advisers, managers. If they plunder Maharlika they won’t go to jail. Their Maharlika law metes only P5-million fine. A drop in the P125-billion bucket.

Businessmen, laborers, academics, activists, church and civic leaders united against Maharlika. The political elite crushed their dissent.

Who concocted Maharlika? Marcos Jr. never mentioned it in his election campaign, nor in his first State of the Nation, nor in his Medium-Term Fiscal Framework. Thus, the suspicions about the intent: plunder, money laundering.

Genuine sovereign funds like Norway’s and Singapore’s are reeling from global inflation. Though untimely, our rulers forced Maharlika through. They plan to invest it abroad; in the same breath they invite foreign investors. They say Maharlika will earn from rural roads and bridges, but who makes money out of those?

Some beg Marcos Jr. to veto onerous Maharlika law provisos. Others are to question it at the Supreme Court. A few are forming watchdog groups. Most are resigned to having our pensions and contributions raided.

But we’re not exactly helpless. There’s a way to starve kleptocrats of blood to suck. Let’s avoid paying taxes.

How? Barter goods and services. Buy from low-income earners who need not issue official receipts.

Make family purchases via our VAT-exempt seniors and persons with disabilities. Avail of all possible income-tax deductions for dependence and expenses. Postpone tax payments till the last minute.

When touring, book untaxed homestays, hostels, pension lodges. Buy from roadside hawkers.

Avail of all possible loans and benefits from SSS, GSIS, PhilHealth, Pag-Ibig, OWWA, PVAO. Postpone repayments till absolute deadline. Collect matured 20-year contributions from Pag-Ibig.

Shun admin fundraisers. Boycott crony-capitalist businesses.

Emigrate, and announce that it’s in disgust with the political elite.

All these are legal – unlike what they’re doing to us.

*      *      *

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

Follow me on Facebook: https://tinyurl.com/Jarius-Bondoc

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