Starweek Magazine

Exception, exemption

SINGKIT - Notes from the editor - The Philippine Star

No law or regulation is perfect, answering the need of every person covered by it. We have to trust – difficult as that may be sometimes – the collective wisdom of our law and policy makers to craft the most workable and most equitable rule that would be fair to most of the people most of the time.

I was a bit dismayed by the report that some of the families of the slain SAF44 want the President to go beyond the rules governing pensions and other benefits provided by law and were not happy that the President said he would refer the matter to the Napolcom and to Congress for amendments to the law.

For one thing, the President is not above the law – he shouldn’t be – and he simply cannot unilaterally order exceptions to the law, no matter how meritorious the situation may be. I feel for the families left behind by the SAF44 – and all other policemen and soldiers killed in service to country, and there are far too many who have given their lives in the line of duty.

The bone of contention is the disparity between pensions of single and married policemen provided for in the Integrated National Police Professionalization Law passed in 1977, before the Family Code, and certainly some of its provisions are outdated. But it is still the law, and the solution is not to have the President go beyond the law, but to – yes – amend it. And in the meantime, numerous other forms of assistance, monetary and otherwise, can be and have been given to the families of the SAF44, single and married – more in fact, than given to other slain policemen and even soldiers.

One of the two Army Scout Rangers killed in the ongoing operations against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu was the third of nine children of farmers in the Visayas, and he was sending four of his siblings to school. Army officials said his family would receive the benefits provided by law for unmarried soldiers killed in action. We must take care of the families left behind by those who give their lives to keep us safe; there are many ways to do so that do not require violating the law, even as we make Congress work to update the law.

I totally share these families’ frustration and dismay about getting timely solutions from Congress, when, for example, instead of working on relevant issues like updating the 1977 law on police professionalization, they are proposing tax exemption for Pacquiao’s earnings on the upcoming Mayweather fight, which could easily top $100 million. It is sheer idiocy – that sin-ator who will file the bill is really LoKo – to say that such tax exemption would “inspire” him and “free Pacquiao from any worries of paying taxes for his winnings in the bout back home.” He’s got an entire staff to take care of the money side of his fights, and I’m sure they are paid handsomely so they should do a better job of keeping his ledgers so he will be “free from any worries” about his tax obligations.

Why doesn’t that LoKo sin-ator propose that policemen and soldiers be tax exempt so they will similarly be “inspired” and be “free from any worries” about their taxes while they are out there risking their lives to keep us safe.









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