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The Daily Tribune

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World Wildlife Fund for Nature-Philippines

The Philippines Matrix Project

Sin tax sins Written by Herman Tiu Laurel

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sin tax sins

The Filipino people are besieged on so many fronts by forces of oligarchy, global and domestic, with the aim of impoverishing the nation. We who are aware have watched this process creep and then now gallop like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: globalization, deregulation, privatization and lastly, trade liberalization or the removal of affirmative action for our domestic economy.

The past months we have seen Filipino poultry and livestock producers rise in protest of dumping of such commodities from the US and China. Our rice production has reeled from importations and smuggling. Where we used to produce our own from shoes to patis the country is now deluged with imports. Don’t tell me that it’s because Filipinos don’t know how to be productive; as the legend goes, when we are OFWs we become known to be the hardest working.

What is it inside the boundaries of this country that dampen, if not suppress, the energy and productivity of our nation? It’s really not difficult to see when the country’s legislators and Executive officials sit by while the highest power cost in Asia continues and basic water needs of the people are becoming beyond their means — all for benefiting a few oligarchs.

Industriousness and frugality are simply met with continuing disincentives from government legislators and executives. In recent weeks another example of this is seen in what the Lower House of Congress approved — the new sin taxes, particularly on the tobacco sector. The sin tax proponents in government, the health sector, business, media and academe are not leveling with the people: they argue that higher taxes will discourage the habit of smoking, that the new taxes will raise more revenues, and there will no economic dislocation. But what they are not telling the public are the following basic facts.

Before the bill reaches the Senate let us review the most important factor, the tax tiering proposed:
Current cigarette excise rates on the local low priced cigarette brands are at P2.72 per pack, mid priced at P7.56 per pack, high priced at P12 per pack, while mainly imported foreign “premium” brands are at P 28.30 per pack.

Under the proposed new Sin Tax HB 5727, the low priced cigarette tax will increase from 2.72 to 12.00 on year 1 (341-percent  increase), and P22 on year 2 (700-percent increase) ; for the mid and high priced, their respective rates of 7.56 and 12.00 will rise to P28.30 on year 1 (135-percent increase) and P30 on year 2 (150-percent increase), going to the rate of premium imported brand tax bracket (P28.30) on year 1 (135-percent increase) and P30 on year 2 (150-percent increase) — equalizing with the rate of premium brands tax bracket (P28.30) in year 1 and on.

The DoF, the main proponent of the new sin tax, knows there is practically no revenue and volume at the premium imported brand tier. The main sources of revenue are high, mid and low tiers which contribute 55 percent, 12 percent and 33 percent  of excise revenues. Why does the DoF insist on raising the level of tax to premium tier where there is no revenue?

The new sin tax proposal threatens to finish off the local tobacco growing and local cigarette production sectors. The major beneficiary of the new sin tax would clearly be the foreign premium brands, in particular this is the British American Tobacco Corp. (BAT), which has been the one making a case for the new sin tax rates. BAT tries to counter the local tobacco farmers and cigarette producers’ objections by promising to invest $200 million in exchange for the new sin taxes being enacted into law. But will it still need to invest that if its imports have the same high tax rate as local brands already? That’s one for the Marines doubtful, as a report from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which can be found on the Internet:
“Washington, Feb. 2, 2000 — In its search to maintain and enlarge cigarette markets and corporate revenue, BAT — the world’s second largest tobacco multinational and parent company of Brown & Williamson — exploited a sophisticated network of smuggling routes throughout Asia. A review of more than 11,000 corporate documents, conducted over a six-month period by the ICIJ at the Center for Public Integrity, shows that, as with corporate operations in Latin America, BAT managers and executives used a series of euphemisms in corporate correspondence to discuss smuggling operations that helped them gain a greater share of smokers and profits.”

The DoF’s  health benefits argument, dutifully supported by the DoH and some well intentioned but naïve health practitioners ignorant of the economic ramifications, is contradicted by its welcome to BAT’s offer of $200-million investment. If the goal is to reduce smoking why invite more investment in the field? BAT is counting on Filipino smokers to continue smoking even with high taxes, and it premium brand will win out.

The hope that the tobacco farmers and cigarette producers will not be dislocated is contradicted by the DoF delighting in BAT’s promise to bring in $200-million investment. While I expect a lot of disinformation from Malacañang (which reportedly got a $ 4-million campaign contribution from the BAT in the last election) and from the US controlled SGV pet Purisima leading the DoF, I thought I could expect more from some journalists reporting and opining on this and find comprehensive reporting — but many of them omit presenting the absolutely anti-Filipino and pro-BAT tobacco and cigarette in the new sin tax, HB 5727 tax-tiering scheme that is at its sinful heart.

(Watch Destiny Cable GNN’s HTL edition of Talk News TV, Saturdays, 8:15 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11:15 p.m. and Sunday; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com)

(May pahintulot ng muling paglimbag mula kay Ka Mentong)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/index.php/commentary/item/1884-sin-tax-sins

SONA 2012: A chronicle of lies foretold

SONA 2012: A chronicle of lies foretold

Sidebar: Anti-SONA 2012 protests in regions against privatization, rights violations
MANILA – The much awaited annual extravaganza called State of the Nation Address (SONA) starring the current Philippine President, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, supported by his cabinet, leaders of Congress and thousands of government troops and police, unfolded as predicted by various progressive groups in the parallel SONAngBayan or Peoples’ SONA held along Commonwealth Avenue.

Progressive groups warned that based on the Aquino administration’s two-year record, it will spew lies, “big lies,” in his SONA this Monday. Predicting Aquino’s speech is all sweet talk and rhetoric and short on truthfulness, the participants of Peoples’ SONA brought a two-faced 14-feet Aquino effigy for burning. “The people won’t be fooled,” said the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in a statement.

“Having two faces means being deceptive. That is what this government has excelled in the past two years,” said Crisanto de Leon, chairman of artists collective UGATLahi, which conceptualized the effigy with Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance). He explained that one of Commander-in-Chief Aquino’s faces is doing the sweet-talking while the other face is doing the selling-out and ordering the repression of Filipinos for the enrichment of a few.

“For the third time we are again bamboozled with sweet promises and rhetoric, but in the end, women, and the Filipino people would still ask: Who really benefits from all of Aquino’s claimed progress?” said Joms Salvador, deputy secretary general of GABRIELA women’s alliance.

Aquino’s democracy: red-carpet for the best-dressed, road blocks for the masa 

Right from Aquino’s opening statements in his SONA, he immediately proved the accuracy of the statements of progressive groups. Aquino recalled for starters the oppression brought about by military dictatorship. He claimed that democracy has been restored. He shared that having witnessed the hardship of his family and others during martial law, he would now side with anyone who is being taken advantage of and whose rights are being robbed. Yet, outside Congress as he spoke, the police and soldiers were beating back protesters from marching nearer to Congress, as should have been their right.

PeoplesSona streetart. (Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
“As with the previous Arroyo regime, the people are once again pushed as far away from Batasang Pambansa as possible,” said Renato M. Reyes Jr., secretary-general of Bayan. Lawyers who joined the Peoples’ SONA explained that all the barricades put up by the police and soldiers and firemen blocking the protesters’ march to Batasang Pambansa were “illegal,” unless the law’s permit requirement is just an excuse.

The peoples’ SONA participants had “duly complied with the procedural requirements for their planned protest actions and timely applied for a permit to stage the same,” said Edre U. Olalia, secretary-general of National Union of Peoples’Lawyers (NUPL).

The Aquino regime thinks highly of itself but it can’t even follow the Constitution and its own Public Assembly Act, said Reyes of Bayan. Nearly a hundred protesters including three media workers had been hurt in tensions that broke out between the police and the protesters, who had tried to march through the police barricade to the Batasang Pambansa as early as six in the morning.

Aquino’s improved economy: no longer a joke but a farce
Aquino’s 90-minute speech, said to be one of the longest SONAs in recent memory, highlighted achievements that progressive groups shot down either as just a deception, a half-truth at best, or simply meaningless. Among others, “Aquino’s ‘achievements’ consisted of an S & P credit upgrade, a rise in stock market, some record gross international reserves, a loan extended to IMF – all quite meaningless to ordinary Filipinos facing high prices, low wages and landlessness,” said Renato Reyes Jr., secretary-general of Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance)..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/07/24/sona-2012-a-chronicle-of-lies-foretold/

Discarding the people’s mandate Written by Ninez Cacho-Olivares

Discarding the people’s mandate

Doesn’t the Philippine Constitution count for anything anymore under the Noynoy government?

It was bad enough that the Supreme Court (SC), along with Noynoy, amended the constitutional proviso on the decreed membership of the Judicial and Bar Council, which stated clearly that the JBC would be composed of the Chief Justice and the Secretary of Justice, among other members.

That proviso does not state that the CJ as member can be replaced anytime by an acting CJ and down the succession line, if the other justices, for one reason or another, does not participate in the JBC proceedings.
Neither does the same proviso state that the President of the Republic can name an alternate representative of the executive for the Justice chief. But there it is, Noynoy and the SC amended that constitutional provision illegally, as they have no power to amend the Charter.

Not content with raping the Charter twice over, there went a House leader who proposed yet another mode of amending, or drafting an entirely new Constitution.

 The mode proposed is a fourth mode, known as the Bernas mode, on account of it having been proposed by a supposed constitutionalist, Fr. Joaquin Bernas.

The fourth mode, which does not exist in the Constitution by way of amending the Charter, calls for, and takes the route of the legislative process..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/index.php/commentary/item/1945-discarding-the-people%E2%80%99s-mandate

Trust thy neighbor Written by Tribune Editorial

Trust thy neighbor

It took the adroit diplomacy from Indonesia to come up with an agreement that gives a lot of promise on defusing tense situations in the South China Sea involving territorial claims where China is staking an aggressive claim.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa shuttled among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) members to mend the rift at the recent Asean Regional Forum meeting in Cambodia where a traditional statement affirming unity and at the same time come up with a binding code on disputed territories did not materialize.

It was a mediation coup since the code of conduct that would likely come out from the issuance of the six-point Asean statement had China’s commitment to abide by.

The Chinese government would likely use the Indonesian move to illustrate the effectiveness of settling disputes within the region without the involvement of the United States which is what the Philippines wanted and was among the reasons China was vehemently against the proposed communiqué in the Asean meeting in Phnom Penh. A heated debate erupted over the mention of territorial disputes in the statement that resulted in an impassé, with the Philippines and Vietnam accusing Cambodia of being influenced by China while the Philippines and Vietnam were accused of holding up an agreement..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/index.php/commentary/editorial/item/1946-trust-thy-neighbor

Dirty Deeds: Iranian nuclear program hit by 'AC/DC virus'?

Dirty Deeds: Iranian nuclear program hit by 'AC/DC virus'?

Iranian nuclear facilities have been reportedly attacked by a “musical” virus, turning personal computers in laboratories on at nighttime and starting playing AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” out loud.

­The Chief Research Officer of Finnish company F-secure, Mikko Hypponen, has made public a letter he received over the weekend from an unknown Iranian scientist from the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI). The Iranian claims that another virus has struck AEOI’s facilities in the Natanz Uranium enrichment facility in central Iran and secret bunker research facility in Fordo, southwest of Tehran.

The unknown Iranian respondent reports that the virus has turned off automated system operations at both abovementioned research centers. The equipment, supplied by Germany’s Siemens Corporation, has reportedly also been taken out of operation..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.rt.com/news/iran-computer-virus-acdc-940/

Internet giants, privacy advocates in 'Do Not Track' showdown

Internet giants, privacy advocates in 'Do Not Track' showdown

Washington has proposed a "Do Not Track" mechanism that would give Internet users better control of their personal information. The measure has Internet firms facing off with privacy groups over how tough the rules should be.

The Obama administration is considering the creation of an agency that would set standards for Internet governance, and the "Do Not Track" option has been proposed with a deadline in order to push privacy advocates and corporations to the negotiating table.

The idea for such a mechanism has been floating around Washington since 2007..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/usa/news/do-not-track-showdown-901/

A+ A A- Another alternative view of Syria Written by Ken Fuller

Another alternative view of Syria

Last Feb. 21, this column was entitled “Alternative Views on Syria,” and I feel the time is ripe for more of the same. Why? Because my stomach turns every time I see the likes of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, David Cameron and William Haigh condemning the violence in Syria as if they are solely motivated by humanitarian concern.

Tipping the balance was the recent assassination of Syria’s defense minister and two other high officials by a suicide bomber. I’m still waiting for the sanctimonious talking heads — or, come to that, the BBC or CNN — to condemn this as an act of terrorism.

One has to look elsewhere for believable coverage of the Syrian conflict — which is not to say that the Assad regime is spotless. Chris Mathlaco, coordinator of the South African Peace Initiative has an interesting piece in the current edition of Peace Messenger, journal of the World Peace Council. “The world’s major mainstream media outlets,” he writes, “are hard at work churning out every possible reason to justify military intervention and are awash with whipping up emotions in preparation for the final moment of assault against the peoples of Syria.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/index.php/commentary/item/1942-another-alternative-view-of-syria

‘Deleveraging’ Written by Archbishop Oscar V.Cruz


It is great to have a new word — a novel term — in town! There is this additional vocabulary, a fresh — though not necessarily refreshing — terminology that was recently invoked and wherefore even quoted by the major dailies.

This simply means that there can be new human thought or modern objective realities that require an equally update language for the consideration and even amazement of all those concerned. However, this does not preclude the possibility that the unique word can be an element of vocabulary gymnastics — intended to confused people and/or to cover up a painful reality.

“Deleveraging.” Behold the unique and intriguing terminology. What does it mean? It was lately used to explain the fact that no less than five rather big banks in the country closed or simply closed shop. These were the American Express, the Societe General, the Union Bank of California, the First International Bank and the Fortis Bank. The reason for the closure?  Here: “Deleveraging.” Translation: it was said that the countries they are identified with are those presently suffering from big financial woes. Hence, they are getting rid of their banks — by selling out.

Question: What about the other some 35 banks in the Philippines that also called it quits in the past 18 months or so? If the reason is not “deleveraging” — whatever this means — then what? The country is reportedly fast developing and progressing in its socio-economic stature as loudly proclaimed and repeatedly assured by the present administration..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/index.php/commentary/item/1943-%E2%80%98deleveraging%E2%80%99

Maita Gomez (1947-2012): Beauty transfigured

Maita Gomez (1947-2012): Beauty transfigured

“The new woman, the new Filipina, is first and foremost a militant…She is a woman who has discovered the exalting realm of responsibility, a woman fully engaged in the making of history…”
- Ma. Lorena Barros, “Liberated Women II”

I only met Maita Gomez, one of two fabled beauty queens turned revolutionaries (the other one is Nelia Sancho), after she had already surfaced from the underground in the early ‘80s and became one of the leading lights of the resurgent women’s liberation movement in the Philippines. She helped found the nationalist and democratic women’s alliance GABRIELA, the anti-dictatorship women’s alliance WOMB (Women for the Ouster of Marcos and Boycott) and, after the Marcos Dictatorship had been overthrown, the first all-women political party, KAIBA (Kababaihan para sa Inangbayan), under whose banner she ran but lost for a seat in Congress representing the Malate district in Manila.

Still, she and I were only peripherally acquainted with one another. She was then studying for her masters degree in Development Economics, was involved with several non-government organizations that were politically more liberal than Left and, except for the annual March 8 International Women’s Day rally and some other GABRIELA activities, seemed busy with concerns other than mainstream Leftist projects or activities.

It was only as recent as 2008, when a long-time common friend asked us out to lunch, that Maita and I warmed up to each other. I had till then no idea that she had been holding some kind of grudge against me because she had been told I was spreading nasty rumors about her. She casually brought it up and when I denied it as completely false, she immediately took my word for it, setting the matter aside..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/07/19/maita-gomez-1947-2012-beauty-transfigured/

Aquino: Military build up continues amid China threat

Aquino: Military build up continues amid China threat

Daily Tribune image
President Aquino said his administration will continue a military build up to counter threats posed by China in heated territorial disputes its has with the Philippines as China’s defense ministrey said it will establish a military garrison on a group of disputed islands in the South China Sea.

The Chinese troops will operate from Sansha in the Paracel Islands, one of two archipelagos in the South China Sea that are claimed by both China and Vietnam.

Aquino, in his state of the nation address (Sona) yesterday said the situation at Bajo de Masinloc has been the source of much discussion and it is “his duty to uphold the laws of the country.”

“And as I did, tension ensued: on one hand, the Chinese had their Nine-Dash Line Theory laying claim to almost the entire West Philippine Sea; on the other, there was the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea, which recognized the rights of many countries, including that of China itself,” Aquino said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/index.php/headlines/item/1961-aquino-military-build-up-continues-amid-china-threat

Noy’s ‘well-packaged’ Sona hollow inside

Noy’s ‘well-packaged’ Sona hollow inside

  • Written by 
  • Tuesday, 24 July 2012 

The concensus on President Aquino’s third State of the Nation Address (Sona) yesterday was it passed with flying colors in terms of packaging but again failed miserably in defining where his administration is heading after two years of his presidency.

Noted economist Benjamin Diokno, a former budget secretary, said “he has specific details on certain social programs but he missed the big picture.”

“Where will he get the money to finance his ambitious programs like the K+12 education program, universal health care, expanded conditional cash transfer, Armed Forces modernization, public infrastructure program, project Noah and so on,” Diokno said.

He added lacking were specifics on attracting more foreign direct investments, his administration’s position on the strengthening of the peso which is hurting both exporters and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the government’s steps to complete the agrarian reform program and the government programt to stop the contraction of the local manufacturing sector.

For instance, in agrarian reform, “will individual titles be issued or will the titles remain collective in nature?” Diokno asked..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/index.php/headlines/item/1965-noy%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98well-packaged%E2%80%99-sona-hollow-inside

Solons lukewarm over Cha-cha push

Solons lukewarm over Cha-cha push

The leaders of both chambers of Congress appeared deadset yesterday to pursue Charter change (Cha-cha) but some senators are lukewarm over the proposal to revisit some key areas in the 1987 Constitution, despite assurance that Charter change (Cha-cha) will only be limited strictly to economic provisions.

The matter of pursuing Cha-cha is an agreement between the Senate president and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and has not been fully discussed with the individual members of the Senate, said Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero yesterday.

“I cannot yet come up with a position on this matter since I still do not have a clear idea on what they’re proposing to undertake, the specifics of the proposal. Personally, I think there should be a justification, that it’s imperative to carry it out and not just because of any reasoning,” he said in an interview with reporters..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/index.php/headlines/item/1962-solons-lukewarm-over-cha-cha-push

Binay calls for gun control, slams shooting of ex-PTA chief, bro

Binay calls for gun control, slams shooting of ex-PTA chief, bro

  • Written by 
  • Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday strongly condemned the shooting of former Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) head Nixon Kua and his older brother.

Binay has also called for greater cooperation between authorities and subdivision officials in enforcing stronger safety measures inside gated communities and urged the police to strictly enforce gun control measures.

“His shooting inside an exclusive subdivision underscores the need to improve the cooperation between the authorities and subdivision officials in enforcing security in our neighborhoods,” he said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/index.php/nation/item/1957-binay-calls-for-gun-control-slams-shooting-of-ex-pta-chief-bro

DENR grants trash boats to Malabon, 3 LGUs

DENR grants trash boats to Malabon, 3 LGUs

Four trash boats worth P6.8 million were turned over by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to Malabon City and three other local government units (LGUs) to help them clean up their rivers of floating garbage.

According to DENR Secretary Ramon Paje, the initial batch forms part of the 24 trash boats the agency will acquire within the year and distribute to different LGUs as “part of the government’s effort to clean up Manila Bay and its tributaries.”

In a turn-over ceremony on Saturday at the Plaza Mexico in Intramuros, Manila, acting Malabon Mayor Antolin Oreta III, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Obando (Bulacan) Mayor Orencio Gabriel and Cavite Gov. Jonvie Remulla formally received the boats from Paje.

Director Noel Gaerlan of the department’s Manila Bay Coordinating Office (MBCO), which purchased the trash boats, told The Tribune that the signing of the deed of donation between the DENR and the four LGUs highlighted the event.

The agreement stipulates that the local governments will shoulder the manpower and funds for the operation and maintenance of the boats..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/index.php/metro-section/item/1932-denr-grants-trash-boats-to-malabon-3-lgus

NPC, Chinese medical group ink MoA for cancer victims Written

NPC, Chinese medical group ink MoA for cancer victims

The National Press Club (NPC) was happy to “bring home” the bacon for its members after a successful four-day visit to China’s third largest city, Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province, which also happens to be “home” to the mainland’s premier hospital for cancer.

On July 14, NPC president Benny Antiporda signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with the hospital director of the Modern Cancer Hospital Guangzhou (MCHG), Dr. Wang Huaizhong, which stipulates that two cancer patients from the Philippines would be accommodated and treated at the hospital free of charge each year.

“We are very thankful (to) the officials of the Modern Cancer Hospital headed by Dr. Wang and their Manila representative, Mr. Bennett Ho, for readily accommodating the NPC’s request for help for our less fortunate members who are cancer victims,” Antiporda said.

The Modern Cancer Hospital is part of the Bo Ai Medical Group (BAMG), one of the biggest private medical companies in mainland China that owns or manages 113 hospitals.

The BAMG is also among the top 100 private medical groups in the world..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/index.php/metro-section/item/1930-npc-chinese-medical-group-ink-moa-for-cancer-victims

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