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Ronald Roy — 2013 April 9

I mean no disrespect to Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III, but I don’t think it is entirely fair to metaphorically view him as the president of a student council (the description given him by Sen. Joker Arroyo shortly after his assumption of the presidency in 2010), or worse, as the president of an association of special children (a depiction volunteered by BJ, a reader).
BJ’s rather unflattering description of P-Noy must have been influenced by the former’s allusion to “the dangerous games being played by North Korea’s 29-year-old president, Kim Jong-un, who threatens an apocalyptic end-of-times with his puny nuclear arsenal”. BJ’s comparison is a gross exaggeration, even if his description of the childish Kim may be fairly accurate.
Let me note at this point that while Kim’s threats are aimed at upsetting regional, if not world, peace, P-Noy’s are poised to curtail violations of domestic revenue-raising laws and regulations.
I was treated to a pleasant surprise two weeks ago when P-Noy addressed a large assembly of Filipino-Chinese businessmen with his barrage of brutally frank remarks. His listeners, some of whom had contributed to his campaign coffers when he ran for president in 2010, froze aghast in their chairs as they did not expect the typical P-Noy rudeness, the same impolitic treatment he had dished out against then Chief Justice Renato C. Corona that eventually led to the latter’s impeachment conviction last year.
But this time around, I don’t think P-Noy was being rude, or impolitic, when, without naming names, he virtually branded as tax cheats some members of the high and mighty congregation of captains of industry. Yes, tax cheats, and he did so with aplomb as he cited facts and figures to show how the government loses billions of pesos to Fil-Sino tax evaders.
P-Noy told his listeners—i.e., members of the FFCCCII, or Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc.—that out of 207 firms and organizations, only 105 have tax identification numbers (TIN), and only 54 filed income tax returns (ITR). Worse, 38 firms filed returns with zero tax due, meaning that only 16 of 207 (8%) paid taxes.
Elaborating further, P-Noy stressed that out of 552 individual members, only 424 had TINs, and that 185 of those with TINs, or almost 44%, filed ITRs; and of those who filed ITRs, 14 filed returns with zero tax due—all of which means that 354 out of 552 individual members—or a whoppin’ 64% of the FFCCCII, did not pay taxes at all!
The president’s speech showcased that kind of gutsiness that is expected of any chief executive enforcing tax laws. Nonetheless, we give him our commendation. It remains to be seen though, if the presidential rhetoric, based as it was on the records of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, will catalyze the agency’s appropriate responses.
One one hand, citizens remain skeptical about the BIR’s efficiency in its tax collection concerns. On the other hand, they find appalling the Bureau of Customs’ failure to stem the worsening state of smuggling as it appears to be increasingly jolting both in terms of brazenness and volume of revenue losses.
One recalls the 2011 disappearance of two thousand(!) container vans in BOC’s custody, and one can muse at the magical fete as a challenge to the great David Copperfield himself! That stunning disappearance was never solved by BOC Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, and only he perhaps can explain why he was not fired by P-Noy.
Again, at the height of the ongoing imbroglio over tax revenues worth at least 30 billion pesos being annually lost to petrol smugglers—as raised by Petron Chair and CEO Ramon S. Ang and confirmed by Edgar Chua, country manager of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp.—Biazon has his lucky stars to thank because P-Noy has ostensibly considered the matter to be not so urgent that he would instead “look into this after the May elections na lang.”
Huh?! Not so urgent, eh?! Even if Biazon himself has downplayed reports on oil smuggling despite acknowledging its existence since time immemorial?!
Hmmm… Had there been a conspiracy of silence here all along, a silence that was suddenly broken by an exposé aired by the two oil executives? Mr. President and Mr. Commissioner, may we know who may have been illicitly sharing in all these foregone revenues?! Hmmm…

Mr. President, that’s at least an annual 30 billion pesos worh of revenues lining private pockets, and you’re taking your nice sweet time?! If you are not a numbskull involved in skullduggery—and I sure hope you’re not—what are you then, apart from being the brother of a TV-screen celebrity brat who is said to be angling at the Republic’s presidency in the near future?! Attention, His Grace, Archbishop Oscar Cruz!!
In fairness (that phrase “in fairness” was, by the way, popularized by that TV-screen personality brat) I don’t believe you’re in the mould of Nokor’s notorious brat-president, 29 year old Kim Jong-un, who is generally seen as bipolar, autistic, deranged or whatever. And without being facetious, I think you’ve taken the full measure of him: an unstable and dangerous person who is president to millions of hungry North Koreans.
I likewise trust you don’t believe that Kim has nothing but bluster, saber-rattling and bravado that will lead to nothing. It is his people’s hunger, sir, that makes him dangerous; and you will understand this better by recalling that it was hunger that triggered the Russian Revolution of 1917 which culminated in the massacre of the last of the great czars, Nicholas, and his family. The last surviving member of the czars, Anastasia’s daughter, urban legend holds, had reportedly escaped to the Philippines; but that’s for another article.
Hunger is the same scourge that has converted a substantial segment of our society into a virtual cesspool of broken homes, suicides, disease, and crime. It is North Korea’s famine that can ignite a nuclear conflagration within the region, where South Korea, Japan, Guam and the Philippines are well within their ballistic missiles’ range of 4,000 miles.
South Korea, Japan, and Guam are our allies; so if anyone of them is attacked, our treaties will compel us to join the fray. It befuddles that our Department of Foreign Affairs specialists have determined we are not in imminent danger of war. Hmmm… maybe they’re all eating too well, eh?!
In any event, Mr. President, the responsibility is singularly yours, not theirs. If they can’t help you, I know who can. Do you believe in — prayer?

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