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Bacolod City, PhilippinesMonday, July 23, 2012
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with Rolly Espina

Of mining and sin taxes

Rolly Espina

As anticipated, the eyes of the public will be focused on two major tax proposals by the Aquino Administration – mining and sin taxes.

Of course, the most proximate of legislative approval are the sin taxes who impose their higher taxes on goods which stoke vices such as cigaret-smoking and liquor-drinking.

Undoubtedly, sin tax measures are to rouse major objections from the floor of the House, especially since an exorbitant increase in taxes on tobacco and the ingredients in beer-making is sure to affect thousands of the population.

Not only the consumers. For example, smokers will certainly growl when they are forced to pay higher taxes on their cigarets. So with alcoholic beverages.

Of course, the people expect more from the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

For example, they want to hear what he has done to curb the increase in the crime rate and mounting toll of victims of gunmen riding in tandem in many parts of the country. So with the increased incidence of crimes also victimizing foreign diplomats. These incidents do not push campaigns of “There’s more fun in the Philippines.”

And, of course, the crime that victimize foreign nationals in our midst, including foreign missionaries whose only fault is that they were trying to extend help to impoverished Filipinos.

Of course, the most anxious questions that they may wish to ask of the President are: What did he do to assure the arrest of such high-profile wanted men as Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes, his brother, mayor of a Palawan town. And former Rep. Reuben Ecleo, and the latest missing big tycoon Delfin Lee of Aquatic Resources.

It is not so much that they have effectively disappeared, it is the fact that, in most instances, it seems that government officials seem to have lost their wishes to run them down as expected.

When such high-profile wanted men can so easily disappear and remain completely hidden, then what is the score for the average citizen?

Then there is also the mounting number of cases of crimes involving members of the police force.

These include crimes committed by dismissed police or military officers.

The average citizen may be given the comforting thought that the President has given the marching orders to DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo and PNP Chief N. Bartolome. The question is, what is the latest progress report on what he had directed them to do?

True, the government has been busy filing cases against suspected corrupt officials. The problem, however, is that there are a lot more big cases that require a crackdown by the government.

Admittedly, the public trust in the Aquino administration has remained high as borne out by survey results. But we must also admit that there has been an upsurge of those becoming more critical of government inaction, especially in human rights violations and the failure to address the problem of unemployment.

While we glory in the volume of dollar remittances by our OFW’s, there seems to have been no determined effort to bare new employment opportunities here in the country. So, we are reduced to seeing more and more of our trained manpower going abroad to find better-paying jobs.

Yesterday, I saw the wife of my driver go back to Singapore to seek another employment extension. Despite the fact that she would have wanted to stay behind for their six-year old child, there was no job she can find here that could compensate adequately.

It’s nice to hear glowing reports about how we have successfully warded off tensions in the West Philippine Sea. But they are of no importance to the average citizen who only hopes for a well-paying job or source of income.

What we need are proposals on how to solve the problem of unemployment, how to accelerate the crackdown on corruption, and to send to jail high profile wanted men.

Instead, we are presented the possibility of renewed scrambles by political parties or coalitions for favored positions in government. So that we are going to be entertained by the political struggle by the moneyed classes for the few positions available.

So, let the circus go on, while the nation burns down.*

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