Rebolusyon! Labanan ang Tax on Text!

September 10, 2009

Joey de Venecia IIIMga kapatid, alam ninyo bang me panukalang batas ngayon itong si Speaker Prospero Nograles pati na itong si Quezon Representative Danilo Suarez na patawan ng buwis ang bawat text natin? Itong dalawang karakter na ito, na nagpasasa sa ating mga pera dun sa multi-milyong hapunan sa Washington at New York ay nagpapanukala ng isang batas na tiyak na lulusaw na naman sa pinaghirapan nating pera.

Para kay Joey de Venecia III, isang businessman at Susan “Toots” Ople, tagapagtaguyod ng mga kapakanan ng mga Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), kalabisan na ito at harapang nakawan at kagahaman.

Ayon sa House-approved measure papatawan ng  five centavo excise tax ang bawat text, picture, video or audio clip sent through mobile phones is uncalled for.

“While proponents of the bill such as Speaker Prospero Nograles say the tax will not be passed on to consumers, it does not provide such a guarantee,” according to de Venecia. “Why pass this burden on to consumers? Why not just improve tax collection efforts and eradicate graft and corruption in government?” he asked.

House Bill 6625 removes the “no pass on provision” of the original bill authored by Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson. This means that the telecoms companies would be allowed to pass on to consumers the new tax. The government, meanwhile, is expected to add an additional P20 billion to P36 billion to its coffers. The Philippines is known as the texting capital of the world owing to the Filipinos’ inherent need to constantly keep in touch with their friends and loved ones.

Between the three major players Globe, Smart and Sun, nearly 40 million cellphone owners nationwide send 2 billion text messages a day. “Texting is a small luxury enjoyed by most Filipinos. The tax approved by the House majority will affect nearly all Filipinos,” de Venecia said.

Additional taxes is not the solution to the country’s very serious problem with graft and corruption, he added. The Geneva-based World Economic Forum very recently said that the country’s perennial problems of corruption, inefficient government bureaucracy and inadequate infrastructure were the main reasons given for the further decline in the country’s competitiveness ranking. This is what the government should address, said de Venecia. Nograles errs when he says the telecoms companies can easily bear the tax burden since the actual cost of short messaging service is very low, according to de Venecia. Capital expenditures of the telcos is in the billions and is constant in order to keep up with constantly evolving technologies, he added. IT-based businessman de Venecia is a pioneer of broadband technology in Asia and helped establish the Philippine call center industry. He became a national figure when he acted as whistleblower of the now infamous ZTE-national broadband network scam whereby an inferior P16-billion broadband network would have been installed with billions of pesos in kickbacks going to the pockets of powerful figures in the Arroyo administration.

susantootsopleSusan “Toots” Ople, whatever fiscal reforms should wait until 2010 and should be of the national vision and economic strategy of the next administration. Para kay Ate Toots, kailangang palakasin muna ng pamahalaan ang tax collection at huwag ipasa sa sambayanan ang kakulangan nito sa koleksyon..

“Ilang milyong OFW ang maapektuhan sa batas na ito na wala namang pupuntahan kundi sa korupsyon.” ayon kay Ople.


2009 SONA of Mrs. Arroyo

July 27, 2009

Thousands braved the rains and marched at the Congressional avenue in Quezon City. Many young people were there. Of course, some senators, congressmen and old faces. They were all waiting for Mrs. Arroyo who came in about 3:33 pm. Wearing a symbolic puschia dress, Mrs. Arroyo came prepared with about an hour’s speech. And as expected, she told us a litany of accomplishments and wasted no time on lambasting her political detractors. A trademark of Gloria.

Crit­ics of Mrs. Glo­ria Macapagal-Arroyo say her State of the Nation address (SONA) was noth­ing but self-serving state­ments meant to paint a rosy pic­ture of our sit­u­a­tion. When Mrs. Arroyo said we had the high­est Gross Domes­tic Prod­uct (GDP) per­cent­ages in his­tory, one or two would counter and say that a few noticed it. Sure enough, stats would show that the num­ber of poor peo­ple increased, due pos­si­bly to lay­offs after sev­eral multi­na­tional com­pa­nies closed shop and those small and medium-sized enter­prises, par­tic­u­larly of the export kind, shut their fac­to­ries down. Many Over­seas Fil­ipino Work­ers (OFW) went back here, vic­tim­ized by a wors­en­ing global finan­cial meltdown.

After sev­eral pre­dic­tions that the coun­try would go the way of Argentina, sur­pris­ingly, we’re still stand­ing on our own two feet. Sin­ga­pore, Japan, Korea, Thai­land, Malaysia, Indone­sia and China are all reg­is­ter­ing neg­a­tive growth. The last time that I checked, the Philip­pine econ­omy is still kick­ing ass with 2 – 3% per­cent pos­i­tive growth in quar­ters. We’re still grow­ing after 33 quarters.

Let’s admit that there are prob­a­bly some good things that Mrs. Arroyo is doing for us to stay in this sit­u­a­tion. Yes, about 12million Fil­ipinos remain poor. Yet, 700,000 Fil­ipino fam­i­lies (25 mil­lion Fil­ipinos) fed and pro­vided emer­gency assis­tance by way of the poverty-alleviation pro­gram and the stim­u­lus pack­age. And the increas­ing pop­u­la­tion growth is sim­ply too hard a prob­lem to solve.

Yes, there are still class­rooms to be con­structed. And yes, there are still roads to be built and bridges too.

What Mrs. Arroyo just told the nation now is very clear — there’s still some work to do, seri­ous ones that need very close atten­tion from the pres­i­dent. When some crit­ics and even one ally remarked that Mrs. Arroyo is still not step­ping down yet, they’re right. Mrs. Arroyo is still not hang­ing out her gloves yet because her man­date allows her to still work some stuff until June 2010.

Is it really nec­es­sary for us to hear those spe­cific words of “yes, I’ll step down” and ” no, I’ll not seek another term or run for Con­gress in 2010″? Obvi­ously, we’re not that stu­pid or naive. Mrs. Arroyo already told us that she is not plan­ning to extend her term beyond the con­sti­tu­tion­ally man­dated limit. Talks about mar­tial law or state of emer­gency are just wild talk, imag­in­ings. It’s quite under­stand­able that peo­ple would think that way prior to the SONA. Now that she already told the peo­ple that she’s leav­ing office after June 2010, that is, I think, already fair enough for us to just go ahead of our lives and leave her alone. Yes, alone.

I believed her when she says that there are so many things left to do. Inher­it­ing a gov­ern­ment with a 500 bil­lion peso debt is not easy. Leav­ing office with a US$ 7 bil­lion reserves is com­mend­able, to say the least. Giv­ing homes to about 1.8 mil­lion Fil­ipino fam­i­lies within a span of nine years is noth­ing to sneeze at. And gen­er­at­ing one mil­lion jobs per year while your econ­omy sucks, is noth­ing short of a miracle. Over­seas remit­tances are increas­ing instead of slow­ing down. Roads and bridges con­tinue to be built. There’s no halt in efforts to pro­fes­sion­al­ize the bureau­cracy, with some sug­ges­tions of revis­ing the char­ter of the Cen­tral Bank and cre­at­ing a Depart­ment of ICT.

Yes, Prof. David is right — these mea­sures are not direct answers to the ques­tions of increas­ing poverty, of unem­ploy­ment or what have you. But, I have a ques­tion though – what is? These efforts are meant to enhance the cur­rent sys­tem and at least make stop gaps to avert a pos­si­ble sys­temic melt­down. They are not imme­di­ate solu­tions. They are strate­gic. If we always expect tac­ti­cal solu­tions to age-old prob­lems, surely, there would never be any time when we would say that every­thing is already in order.

For we ask the impossible. If we say that Mrs. Arroyo failed to quell insur­gency like what she promised, we are again, ask­ing for the impos­si­ble. The insur­gency is an inher­ited prob­lem. I believed her when she said she wants peace in Min­danao. And I believed her when she prayed for Social­ists to turn a new leaf. Because that’s really all we can expect from her, and pos­si­bly even her successor.

The prob­lem really is we expect Mrs. Arroyo to churn out mir­a­cles after mir­a­cles, when we all know that it is this decay­ing demo­c­ra­tic sys­tem that is caus­ing the prob­lem. How can you do good things when the very sys­tem pre­vents or hin­ders you from actu­ally mak­ing it? We expect Arroyo to dras­ti­cally change things when we know even then that this is impos­si­ble under a decrepit system.

We expect mir­a­cles to hap­pen when we just sit down and let her do all the work while we wait for her to fail so that we can boast that “oh, see, we’re right.” It’s time for us to help her fin­ish the work she vowed to accom­plish come 2010. As both Sen­a­tor Enrile and Speaker Nograles said, his­tory would judge Mrs. Arroyo more kindly after all the dust has set­tled down. I believe them. In her last remain­ing months in office, time for us to recon­sider and think that change is impos­si­ble if it’s just one or two doing the work. Time for us all to shut up and do some seri­ous nation-building.

Time for Plots and Counter-Plots

November 26, 2008

As I am writing this, I received information that Gloria’s men are meeting in a secluded place in Malacanang and plotting for their next move. With the impeachment complaint squashed, the palace political operator is reportedly plotting to oust ex-Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. The ouster of JDV will be made in a political caucus by Lakas members. Former palace legal counsel Sergio Apostol is allegedly the one tasked to cut JDV’s head.

I think this plot will just be a counter-plot since it will just anticipate the expected bolt of the JDV-FVR faction in Lakas to coalesce with Manny Villar’s Nacionalista Party and Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco’s Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC). Sources say there is already an understanding between FVR and Cojuangco while FVR’s group reportedly is almost close to talks with Villar’s. Meaning, Lakas is just trying to mitigate the effects of a formal split, since obviously, Malacanang, for the longest time, has been trying to marginalize both JDV and FVR.

A split within Lakas will definitely affect the strength and stability of the entire “rainbow coalition” at the House. It would impact particularly on KAMPI, since majority of its members are former Lakas stalwarts. If JDV and FVR succeeds in coalescing with Danding and Villar, the possibility of another party raid within Kampi-Lakas is huge given that JDV and FVR still commands respect among the old guards of Lakas. In practical terms, with Danding and Villar united, this sends a message to Congressmen that the gravy train has shifted from Gloria to again, the JDV-FVR tandem.

JDV’s marginalization will all be done immediately after the AFP attack on Camp Bushra of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Reports say, the AFP brass is preparing for an outright assault on Bushra this December. JDV’s ouster from Lakas will coincide with this military assault.

By the way, Joey de Venecia the Third, who I find to be a very serious Nationalist, sent me his statement stating his opinions on the killing of his impeachment complaint. This is what he has to say:

November 26, 2008

This is a sad day not only for us the complainants and the minority lawmakers, but more so for the Filipino people. Our right to take President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to task has again been taken away from us.
As our minority lawmakers have said repeatedly, this process is a way to let government show the transparency that the Constitution mandates.
The impeachment process is the proper and legal forum to let the people know what is happening and to allow the government and its officials to explain themselves.
It appears that the government would rather that the people take its grievances to the street than offer them a decent and legal forum.
The House Justice Committee might have stopped the impeachment complaint but I assure everyone that the Committee cannot stop us from airing our grievances and allegations in any and all other forums available to us.
We will bring this case straight to the people. We will go to them and talk to them. We will put out into the open what the government would rather keep under the cloak of darkness.
I give my utmost appreciation to all those who supported us in any way. I thank the Filipino people for their sentiments and their prayers.
We will not keep quiet. The fight in the halls of Congress may be over but the real fight for truth and justice goes on.

Apela sa lahat ng Pilipino

October 27, 2008

Mga mahal na kapatid na Pilipino sa lahat ng dako,

Hindi ninyo ba napapansin? Habang papalapit ang pagdating ni Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante, lagi nating naririnig ang katagang “arkitekto” ng fertilizer scam. Maaaring totoo. O maaaring hindi. Pero, ang sigurado–ipinako na ng gobyerno ang lahat ng sisi kay Bolante.

Epektibong istratehiya ito dahil wala na tayong nakikitang midyang nagtuturo kay Gloria bilang totoong mastermind dito. At malamang, talagang si Bolante ang may pakana, pero, hindi ba natin uungkatin kung sino ang talagang nakinabang at maaaring siyang utak ng iskandalong ito?

Sino ang nag-udyok kay Bolante na walang takot na ipatupad ang scam na ito? Nasan ang limpak-limpak na salaping sinasabing itinago at hindi napakinabangan maging noong 2004 elections?

Maaaring hindi na natin malalaman ang tunay na istorya sapagkat tinapos na ng Senado ang kanilang imbestigasyon at tanging sa Ombusman na lamang ang pag-asa. Pero, sa inaasta ni Merceditas Gutierrez, ang kawalang aksyon ng ahensya sa kabila ng tatlong taong nakasampa ang kaso at malamlam na interes ng taumbayan sa pinuntahan ng kanilang buwis, malamang na mauwi sa wala ito.

Tulad ng karamihan sa mga iskandalong kinasangkutan ng mga opisyales de gobyerno, nauwi sa bula ang perang ninakaw ng mga kawatan. Ilang buwang inabot ang galit ng taumbayan. Pero, pagkatapos nito, unti-unting nawala sa mga pahayagan at nakalimutan.

Habang patuloy ang kawalang katarungan, palaki ng palaki ang pagnanakaw na ginagawa sa atin ng mga kawatan. Habang may nakakatakas sa katiwalian dahilan sa may tiwala sa kanila ang Malakanyang, lumalaki ang nawawala sa kaban ng bayan.

Magpapatuloy na magpapakapagod tayo sa pagbabayad ng buwis. Hihigit sa sampung milyong Pinoy ang lulunok ng sariling laway at magpapa-alila sa mga dayuhan, makatakas lamang sa napipintuhong kahirapan. At hindi iilan ang kakapit sa patalim, mabayaran lamang ang VAT, sanlaksang buwis, pati na mataas na kuryente’t gasolina, maituloy lamang ang pamumuhay sa ating lipunan.

Sabi nga ng ilan, life goes on. Let’s move forward at hintayin na lamang ang 2010. May pag-asa pa.

Nasasaan ang pag-asa? Pag-asang sa susunod na administrasyon, milyon-milyon na lamang ang kukubrahin ng mga kawatan at hindi na bilyon-bilyon? Nasasaan ang pag-asa? Pag-asang magiging mumo na lamang at maibabaon sa limot ang mga katiwalian at kawalang-katarungang ginawa sa atin ng kasalukuyang administrasyon?

Para na rin tayong nagparaya sa kabuktutan at kahalayan at pagkatapos magpakasarap ng animal na mananambong, tatalikod tayo at sasabihing, may pag-asa pa at kalimutan ang kapalastanganan sa ating karangalan.

Hindi ko naman masisisi ang mga Pinoy. Naging pambansang anthem na natin ang Erap song na “magtiis”. Naging national animal na rin natin ang kalabaw.

Kumbaga, kapagka kinubabawan ka at nilapastangan ng isang rapist, ibukas mo pa ng mas malaki ang mga binti mo at “enjoy” (a famous quote from Foreign Secretary Raul Manglapus).

Kumbaga, kung binomba na ng mga dayuhan, pinatay ang mga mamamayan, kinatay ang mga sanggol ng mga sakang na Hapon, mag-tiis at mag-enjoy.

Sa pagbalik ng isang sinasabing kawatan na ni wala tayong narinig na sorry man lang, tanungin siguro natin ang ating mga sarili—bilang Pinoy, okey na ba tayo sa asado o sa bola-bola lang? Ito ba ang kapalit ng 756 milyong pisong pinuhunanan natin ng ating pagod sa pagtratrabaho makapagbayad lang ng buwis? Ang tanggaping ang katotohanan ay maaaring asadong may laman o isang siopao na may bola-bola.

Bahagi na ng ating kultura ang umasa na lamang ng umasa na magkakaroon ng magandang umaga sa kabila ng mga dagok sa ating buhay. Kung mahirap ang lagay ng bayan, mangibang bansa. Kung makakatapos ka naman ng kolehiyo, kunin mo na ang nursing at siguradong me US green card ka.

Kailan kaya tayo tatayo at sasabihing, oras nang kilalanin natin ang ating mga karapatan? Na hindi tayo kailangang magtiis sapagkat karapatan nating maging mabuti ang lagay ng ating mga buhay?
Na, hindi na tayo kailan man papayag na nanakawan tayo ng harap-harapan ng mga kawatan at papatawan na talaga natin ng matinding kaparusahan ang mga mandarambong ng kaban ng bayan?

Kailan kaya na sasabihin natin ng harapan na walang silbi ang mga naninilbihan sa pamahalaan. Kailan kaya tayo pipiyok at sasabihin ng harapan na pitsa-pitsa ang serbisyo ng DPWH sa EDSA?

At kailan kaya natin sasabihin na diring-diri tayo sa mga namumuno ngayon sa atin, na karapatan nating magkaroon ng mas mabuting gobyerno at maiging pamumuhay at sawang-sawa na tayong pamunuan ng mga palpak at makasariling opisyales de gobierno?

May isa pang pagkakataon.

Sa pagbabalik ni Joc-Joc Bolante, sana piliin natin ang tumpak at tamang daan. Manawagan tayo ng katarungan. Ilabas niya ang katotohanan. Kung mag ala-Neri siya, huwag na huwag tayong papayag na hindi niya makamtan ang katarungang pambayan.

Galit tayo sa snatcher. Galit tayo sa akyat-bahay. Mas dapat tayong magalit sa mga kawatang naka suot ng barong at harap-harapan tayong niloloko.

A New Morning for Everyone

October 11, 2008

Many economists are already saying that more than 250,000 Filipinos will probably lose their jobs due to the global recession. This doesn’t take into consideration the estimated 20-30,000 Pinoys abroad who’ll probably lose theirs and go back here because of the US financial meltdown. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have both said that this recession hasn’t even started yet, but we are feeling a terrible crunch already.

Having said that, it is good that we all work together to make this country of ours united and peaceful. Peace and order is one sure thing that would make our country a viable investment site. Economists are urging government to attract more capital infusions  abroad since the domestic economy cannot adequately satisfy the local capital markets. Despite efforts, net capital inflows continue to slide, and slide it will in the next few months not because of political instability. No.

The Philippines remains in the bottom rung of places to consider for investments because it has a corrupt, decrepit and patronage-based system. Foreigners are avoiding us like a plague because we have a government that Filipinos and foreigners hate alike. Why? Because corruption has already been institutionalized. Government has spent billions already fighting graft; but corrupt practices remain because it has been part of the informal policies of this administration.

Net—it is not political theatrics of has-beens that’s harming our country. It is the very government that’s the core problem. Everybody wants a charmed life in this little paradise of the Orient. Everybody’s united to survive this global malady that is afflicting each and every country in the world.

However, the one that’s supposed to lead the body politic is the one causing all these problems and making our country an embarrassment before the eyes of the international community. We deserve a government that is better than the present one. It is our right as a people to enjoy the blessings of democracy under a government that we trust. Unfortunately, we don’t have such a government. And 2010 or not, we must all unite to oust this government now.


If we don’t do it now, all our efforts at surviving this global financial sickness will all go to waste. The one reason why people are apparently showing disinterest is the fact that the Filipino People are waiting for new faces to lead them against Gloria.

Colleagues, these new faces exist! They are still here, waiting for the right time to unleash the People’s Justice against Gloria and her gang of evil misfits. There are still Filipinos who have the will, the heart and the spirit to make a better Philippines happen. If this impeachment complaint fail and I’m sure it will, it’s not the end of everything. No.

It will be the start of a New Morning for everyone. Darkness will surely be defeated in the end because that’s the fate that awaits those who oppress, kill and create injustice against their fellowmen. Let it be said here that Filipinos are not those maids being depicted by BBC. Filipinos are not those docile creatures populating an otherwise dark paradise in the Pacific.

Let the world know that, we Filipinos stood out against an immoral and evil regime, now, not in 2010. Let those who hold the torch still, stand up and forever be counted among the patheon of heroes.

Punish the alleged bribe giver!

September 10, 2008
The Supreme Court yesterday punished members of the Court of Appeals who reportedly took part in the GSIS vs. Meralco case bribery scandal. CA Justice Vicente Roxas was fired for violating the Canons of Judicial Ethics while his colleague, Jose Sabio, was suspended for 3 months. Other members of the committee who handled the GSIS vs. Meralco case such as Justice Myrna Vidal and Justice Vazquez were merely reprimanded and admonished. Meanwhile, alleged bribe giver businessman De Veyra is to be charged with a crime by the DOJ. 

So all participants were meted just punishment? I think not.

The Supreme Court did not answer the basic question of the People–did Meralco really gave bribe money to these justices? How many justices got bribed? And why did they not punished Meralco if it did, indeed, allegedly gave bribe money to influence the justices that led to that favorable decision?

How much bribe money changed hands when this case was being heard? And with this tainted decision, should it be proper for the Supreme Court to overturn the favorable decision? There should be a review of the GSIS vs. Meralco case.

The SC decision stopped short in identifying the conduit but never really probed deep enough to really identify who among the Meralco organization coordinated with De Veyra in the alleged crime. I don’t believe that this businessman acted alone. It is quite improbable for somebody like him to fork out 30 million pesos just because “he has personal interest” in the case? Surely, being a big-time operator, De Veyra reports to a principal, which, has not been identified properly by the SC. 

Government should order the Department of Justice, particularly the NBI, to probe deeper into this scandal and identify the shadowy figures involved in this mess. These people should be punished.

Why we need to rage?

September 4, 2008

Here in my small nook, I write things which I find and observe to be true. In my lofty tower, I feel the sense of helplessness, looking at my 5-month baby and thinking what future lies ahead for him. With prices soaring to the high heavens and systems breaking down all around, I’m really afraid that somehow, something will happen and will affect my family.

I mean, look. One needs at least 15,000 pesos to survive. You have five mouths to feed. You have a kilo of rice at 40-45 pesos and you need at least 2 kilos per day, right? You have viands to buy, gasoline to keep your car running and occasional expenses for clothing and entertainment. I know some people who continues to survive at 6,000 pesos, but boy, look at them. They’re emasciated as if they’re ghosts!

On top of this, you have thousands of pesos worth of electricity and water bills that you need to pay. 

Sometimes I think that our lack of rage against these things lead to our continued poverty. I mean, we have the right to demand better living standards but hey, government and these big companies are continuing to fool us and rob us of our hard-earned money and leaving us with nothing!

There should be a time to stop all of these. And what better time to do it but now. Because if we don’t act soon, we might find ourselves digging our graves deeper.