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More taxes – the real game DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 07/25/2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

More taxes – the real game

Herman Tiu Laurel
While the country gets increasingly distracted by the “Hello Garci” and Lintang Bedol dramas, the many Gloria Arroyo plunder cases that seem to have a number of legal loopholes, as well as today’s worn-out “anti-corruption” State of the Nation Address (Sona), the real game in the system — the financial mafia’s blood-sucking of the people — continues to intensify.

The Supreme Court (SC)’s approval over the weekend of the 12-percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on toll fees by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), affecting among others, the North and South expressways, is just the latest in a string of backbreaking tax burdens and price hikes. What this SC decision also makes clear is that nothing can stop the toll operators from passing it on to commuters.

Perhaps to soften the impact of its decision, the SC ponente resorted to some semantic play. It claimed that while “the seller (of the toll service) remains directly and legally liable for payment of the VAT... the buyer bears the burden since the amount of VAT paid by the former is added to the selling price,” arguing that “Once shifted, the VAT ceases to be a tax and simply becomes part of the cost that the buyer must pay in order to purchase the good, property, or service,” thereby declaring that the “VAT on tollway operations cannot be a tax on tax even if toll is deemed as a ‘user’s tax’… since VAT is assessed against the tollway operator’s gross receipts and not necessarily on the toll fees.”

But is there really a difference if VAT were to be based on the operator’s receipts since all of it will be taken from commuters’ pockets anyway?

The problem with this new, additional expanded VAT (eVAT) in the life of Filipinos is the eVAT law itself — a law that has opened the floodgates to endless regressive taxes. A little history of the tax system in RP would thus be helpful.

Before Edsa I, the country had progressive taxation based on income tax where those who can afford paid more while those who earned less paid less. The VAT law that came with the Cory Aquino regime changed all that. It introduced the VAT system, which is based on taxing consumption, with the end-users shouldering much of the burden. It is regressive since it taxes the poor more than the rich.

A tax on toll fees, for example, would be the same for a brand new Mercedes Benz and a 20-year-old dilapidated Toyota Corolla whenever such vehicles pass through the toll booth.

Early on, when the VAT was made part of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), it was touted as the last time any new tax would have to be raised. But, as we all know, the VAT was immediately expanded under Fidel Ramos. Of course, it was the IMF-WB that lobbied for all of it; but since it was our Congress that capitulated (as usual), it only exemplified the idiocy of our politicians for crafting such a law.

One such fellow, Nueva Ecija Rep. Renato V. Diaz, is now ironically one of two petitioners at the SC, challenging the Department of Finance (DoF) and the BIR’s imposition of the toll eVAT (the other being former Trade Assistant Secretary Aurora Timbol).

Since the high court in its decision was able to state, “The VAT on franchise grantees has been in the statute books since 1994 when Republic Act 7716 or the Expanded Value Added Tax law was passed. It is only now, however, that the executive has earnestly pursued the VAT imposition against toll way operators,” clearly, Diaz has been ignorant of the full meaning and impact of the law he co-authored all along.

That said, the imposition of the tax is still a political as well as an ideological issue. Even as Gloria Arroyo’s supporters say that she stalled on the VAT on toll ways throughout her nine years in office (as opposed to Aquino III, who only put the brakes because it was challenged before the SC), the truth is, she only withheld its implementation because of political expedience, whereas Aquino III, without a similar sense of the limits of his “political capital,” merely allowed his BIR appointee and Finance Secretary, both IMF assets, to get the better of him.

The case brought before the SC actually saved Aquino III for a while. Now that he has to face the music and decide on whether to impose or not, his campaign promise of “no new taxes” will surely be tested. Still, given his administration’s financial and economic thrust, there isn’t any hope for an ideological shift to progressive taxation, which is our only liberation from the continued tax exploitation and extraction.

But as bad as this recent development already is, the pressure to raise the eVAT from 12 to 15 percent is still on, as reflected in the official pronouncements of the DoF, Neda (National Economic Development Authority), BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas), and the BIR.

Consumers and commuters desiring to stop the VAT’s march to more perilous heights, though, do not have the law on their side. As in the VAT on toll ways, they are only limited to making appeals for the Chief Executive’s better sense (if that’s even possible at all).

However, since Malacañang is still in the mode of fending off pressure to hike the eVAT to 15 percent, it is more than likely to give in to the temptation of the green-lighted VAT on toll ways.

As such, Filipino consumers and commuters will never have a permanent respite from increasing regressive taxes unless the country returns to progressive taxation — which will only happen after a genuine popular revolution.

(Tune in to Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 5 to 6 p.m., and Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; Talk News TV with HTL, Tuesday, 8 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8, on “DoST Expo 2011: IGNITE THE FILIPINO MIND”; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com and http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com for our articles plus TV and radio archives)
(Reprinted with permission from Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel).

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110725com5.html

No potential, no nothing EDITORIAL 07/25/2011

No potential, no nothing

Click to enlarge
Today’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) of Noy, his second under a lackluster presidency thus far, is not expected to deviate from the usual fare of the repetitive promises of trudging the straight path and no corruption, no poverty lines, all of which irritate the ear, and spiced with the never-ending Gloria bashing.

For the past so many speeches of Noynoy since the first Sona and even from his presidential campaign, he had nothing to offer by way of his speeches to give Filipinos hope that a solution is forthcoming for their economic miseries.

At the campaign trail, Noynoy’s attack on Gloria may sound new, novel and may have sparked some form of hope among a handful and may have swayed decisions at the polls but a year of the exact dish tosses one’s cookies.

A given is that it would be in the local vernacular since his speechwriters believe that Noynoy is more in his fiery element when speaking in the native tongue but the bet is that the spiel which is supposedly intended to persuade members to go along with his administration’s legislative agenda would be an enumeration of his imaginary achievements and likely revelations of newly conceived corruption cases during Gloria’s watch..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110725com1.html

Sona: Too much hype FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 07/25/2011

Sona: Too much hype

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
State of the Nation Addresses are always portrayed by Malacañang as a most important yearly event, as if such speeches would effect major changes in the life of a country and its people. Yet all these Sonas are merely a list of rosy promises made by political leaders with exaggerated claims of accomplishments by the Palace tenant, none of which will bring about great changes and reforms.

There are, of course, great presidential speeches that succeed in their aim of bringing about attitudinal changes in the people, but by and large, the Sonas and other speeches being churned out by Malacañang for presidents are puffed up pieces to make presidents look good with even more promises to the nation that would hardly be delivered during their terms.

Truth is, Noynoy had that rare chance of bringing about an attitudinal change in the people shortly after being proclaimed president. He could have brought this about during his 100 day in office speech, and followed this up during his maiden Sona..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110725com2.html

Kazakh strongman’s absence exposes succession uncertainty focus 07/25/2011

Kazakh strongman’s absence exposes succession uncertainty


ALMATY — President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s sudden absence from work and reported hospitalization has the exposed the uncertainty over who could succeed the man who has ruled Kazakhstan for over two decades.

The 71-year-old Nazarbayev has dominated short history of independent Kazakhstan, constructing a system of power around himself following the fall of the Soviet Union.

German newspaper Bild on Tuesday reported that Nazarbayev underwent a prostate operation at University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Hamburg as the president disappeared from public for almost two weeks.

The official silence that followed in the glitzy Kazakh capital, Astana, on the president’s whereabouts or his state of his health, only fueled speculation..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110725com3.html

Pawns C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 07/25/2011


Jonathan De la Cruz
“Uncharacteristic” was how the international press described Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario’s remarks about China’s actions in the disputed West Philippine Sea or South China Sea as the Chinese call it at the recent 18th Asean Regional Forum in Bali. Attended by the top diplomats of the member countries, Del Rosario said China’s claims were “baseless” and a “potential threat” to navigation in international waters. Racheting his rhetoric, Del Rosario proceeded to raise concerns about how the Chinese would treat its neighbors as it “became more powerful.”

Those are indeed fighting words and for a diplomat-businessman of Del Rosario’s standing truly a revelation.
Said the DFA Chief: “If Philippine sovereign rights can be denigrated by this baseless claim (the so-called nine-dash claim inked on Chinese maps), many countries should begin to contemplate the potential threat to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. China’s hesitation to accept the Philippine suggestion to elevate their dispute to the International tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ItLos) could lead to the conclusion that China may not be able to validate its stated positions in accordance with the UNCLOS.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110725com4.html

Mr. Noted Pangilinan, Drilon asked to spill all on ’04 fraud By Angie M. Rosales 07/25/2011


Mr. Noted Pangilinan, Drilon asked to spill all on ’04 fraud

By Angie M. Rosales 07/25/2011

Not only poll operators former Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials Lintang Bedol and Virgilio Garcillano should be asked to reveal all the massive and orchestrated cheatings that happened in the 2004 presidential polls when former President Arroyo stole the presidency from opposition standard bearer Fernando Poe Jr. but also former political allies of the Arroyo administration who are now strong supporters of President Aquino, including Senators Francisco Pangilinan and Franklin Drilon.

Both Pangilinan and Drilon were instrumental in facilitating the canvass in Congress of the votes that led to Arroyo’s proclamation with Pangilinan being remembered for breaking his gavel while uttering “noted” on every protest raised by the camp of Poe on election documents.

Present and former legislators said the former Arroyo supporters should also “speak out and tell the people what really happened” in the fraud-marred poll exercise.

“If only for correcting, rectifying the ‘error’ of the past. At that time they didn’t know what was
subsequently revealed by (Maguindanao election officer Lintang) Bedol and (former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov.) Zaldy Ampatuan and eventually (in the) Garci tapes,” former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110725hed1.html

BI blacklists two Chinese for assaulting Noy’s in-law 07/25/2011

BI blacklists two Chinese for assaulting Noy’s in-law

Two Chinese travel writers involved in a mid-flight brawl with President Aquino’s brother-in-law have been ordered to leave the Philippines, an official of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) yesterday said.

The pair, part of a media tour to encourage tourism to the country, were on a flight to the central resort island of Cebu when they are alleged to have attempted to choke Eldon Cruz, the husband of Aquino’s elder sister Maria Elena “Ballsy” Cruz, who had asked them to tone down their voices.

The Immigration commis-sioner said the two must fly out by Sunday night (July 24) and had been blacklisted from returning to the Philippines, according to Immigration spokesman Maria Antonette Mangrobang.

“They are departing tonight. It was an order to leave the country immediately and for their inclusion in the blacklist,” she added..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110725hed5.html

Koko asks SET to dismiss Zubiri, proclaim him instead as 12th senator By Angie M. Rosales 07/25/2011

Koko asks SET to dismiss Zubiri, proclaim him instead as 12th senator

By Angie M. Rosales 07/25/2011

His Senate legitimacy under a heavy doubt of cloud following the exposé of disgraced poll official Lintang Bedol, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri appears to have waved the white flag after he ordered his revisors to stop reporting before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).

This was the contention of rival Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III in his petition to be filed today asking the SET to dismiss Zubiri’s counter-protest and declare him as the duly-elected 12th senator in the 2007 national polls.

Pimentel motion’s was prompted by an order that Zubiri issued to his revisors “not to report to the revision proceedings” in connection with his counter-protest before the SET.

In effect, Zubiri’s move “obviously points to his abandonment of his counter-protest. In comedic terms, Zubiri is boycotting his counter-protest.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110725nat3.html

Mayor: Valenzuela may become catch basin of floodwaters, if... 07/25/2011

Mayor: Valenzuela may become catch basin of floodwaters, if...

Valenzuela Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian has warned that the city and its neighboring Bulacan towns would only become a catch basin of floodwaters that will come from Caloocan, Navotas and Malabon unless a cancelled flood control project is reviewed and set for implementation.

Gatchalian, in an interview with Tribune, said the national government or specifically the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) should reconsider constructing the Valenzuela-Obando-Meycauayan (VOM) Flood Control Project.

“Without its implementation, the flood control efforts of the city will be useless and could only worsen the situation of the neighboring areas,” warned Gatchalian yesterday..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110725met4.html

Stop bidding of P50-million fire trucks pending probe — solons By Charlie V. Manalo 07/25/2011

Stop bidding of P50-million fire trucks pending probe — solons

By Charlie V. Manalo 07/25/2011

Two lawmakers are seeking to stop the bidding of eight fire trucks worth more than P50 million even as they pointed to alleged serious anomalies at the Bureau of Fire Protection’s (BFP) plans to purchase 150 more fire trucks worth billions of pesos.

Agham Party-List Rep. Angelo Palmones and Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop, in separate letters, asked the BFP’s bids and awards committee to stop the bidding even as the alleged irregularities are being investigated by the congressional committee on public order and safety.

In his letter, Palmones said “in due deference to the current investigation being conducted” by Congress, “prudence” and the “exigency of public interest and service require that the proposed procurement of 8 units of 1,500 gallons of imported Power Take Off (PTO) fire trucks be suspended indefinitely.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110725met1.html

Schools prohibiting studes from taking exams warned 07/25/2011

Schools prohibiting studes from taking exams warned

School owners or administrators are facing penalty if found guilty of prohibiting students with delinquent tuition to take the mid-term or final examinations.

Manila Rep. Carlo Lopez filed House Bill 4559 that declares unlawful the act prohibiting any student from taking any examinations due to non-payment of tuition.

Violators face suspension or cancellation of their permit to operate and a fine of not more than P50,000.

“A reasonable compromise between competing needs of students and the administration of the schools must be prescribed,” Lopez said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110725met3.html

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