Opinion & Community

UCBL: CEU vs CdSL in finals

Image: Olivarez vs Cdsl (UCBL Facebook)

Colegio de San Lorenzo routed Olivarez College in their knockout duel yesterday, 78-61, to clinch the other finals berth in the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) Season 2 at the Sea Lions gym in Sucat, Parañaque City.

Pro league hopeful Jon Gabriel made a triumphant return as he helped ease the load off the shoulders of Benin big man Soulemane Chabi Yo, veterans Charles Callano and Gelo Sablan as the No. 2 Griffins jumped the gun on the No.3 Sea Lions early on and never let up.

The solid victory, far from its showing in a 74-69 loss in the series opener last Monday, also primed up CdSL in what promises to be an explosive best-of-three titular showdown with reigning titlist Centro Escolar University starting tomorrow at the same venue.

The 6-foot-6 Chabi Yo was back at his dominant form with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Callano continued his stellar play with 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. It was, however, the surprising return of Gabriel that caught Olivarez College by big surprise and served as the key in CdSL’s all-important victory.

UAAP: Archers on my mind – Tab

Right after taking the Far Eastern Tamaraws by the horn, Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin wasted no time shifting his sights on a familiar rival – Green Archers waiting in ambush.

“La Salle. What else would I be thinking about? We have to move on,” said the American-Kiwi coach, hardly giving his team any time to celebrate after their hard-earned 88-84 victory over FEU in Wednesday’s UAAP do-or-die semis for the right to face the defending champions in the finals.

Tab Baldwin
Tab Baldwin

“I think the coaching staff has to set the tone and we gotta come down from the cloud pretty quick. Get our focus on the next game because we didn’t play this season just to win in the semis. We played this season to go as far as this team is capable of going,” he stressed.

The finals is a best-of-3 affair with Game 1 at 4 p.m. tomorrow at the Mall of Asia Arena.

This will be the sixth time in nearly three decades that the “Blue versus Green” rivalry will hog the finals’ limelight, with Ateneo winning it in 1988, 2002 and 2008 and La Salle prevailing in 2001 and 2016.

After surviving a balanced Tamaraws crew, the Blue Eagles hope for a quick recovery before they face the rejuvenated Green Archers.

“They’re a good team. There’s a reason why they’re in the finals, why they’re waiting in the finals, they’re the defending champs,” said longtime Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga of La Salle, which made quick work of Adamson, 82-75, in their own semis pairing over the weekend.

“We have no illusion that it’s gonna be an easy game for us. We have to dig deep and really play in spite of this game that we’re tired and it went into overtime. Fatigue’s not a factor right now. We’re gonna find a way to overcome that. We can’t enjoy this game too much because we have to focus on the next game.”

The Blue Eagles suffered a drop-off in confidence and sharpness after they lost two of their last three matches in the last two weeks, including a 79-76 heartbreaker to the Archers.

Forward Mike Nieto, however, is confident they can regain their bearings in time as they try to avenge a two-game sweep dealt by La Salle in last year’s finals.

“When it comes to facing La Salle in the finals, lumalabas na rin yung character ng team namin,” he said, adding the Blue Eagles’s tough grind against the Tamaraws helped them prepare for the ultimate battle.

“Losing two straight games and then having a do-or-die, siguro nag-mature na rin kami. You know the most important game like what coach Tab states all the time and coach Sandy is the next game. Importante ‘yung Game 1 because it’s the next game.”

Ateneo’s top wingman Thirdy Ravena, who’s expected to bear the brunt of La Salle’s unrelenting “Mayhem” pressure, waxed just as optimistic.

“Hopefully natutunan na namin yung mga mali namin from last year. We have to be more composed this year because La Salle is not gonna play us any softer than FEU,” said the younger brother of former two-time UAAP league MVP Kiefer.

PRRD wants investment restrictions eased

President Duterte has ordered the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to immediately work on measures to lift or ease the country’s foreign investment negative list.

In Memorandum Order No. 16 dated November 21, 2017, President Duterte identified eight investment areas that should be removed from the 11th Regular Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL).

These areas include labor recruitment, public services, rice and corn production, milling, processing, trading, teaching at higher education levels, retail and domestic market enterprises.

According to Duterte, their removal from the FINL aims “to raise the Philippines’ level of competitiveness and to foster higher economic growth in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region.”

“Beyond through joint endeavors in the spirit of equality and partnership, the NEDA Board and its member agencies are hereby directed to take immediate steps to lift or ease existing restrictions on foreign participation in the following investment areas or activities,” the President’s order read.

The NEDA board members were also directed “to earnestly support, in a coordinated manner, such legislative efforts as may be necessary to eliminate or relax the aforesaid restrictions, including sensing legislations seeking to clarify the definition of public utilities.”

The President also sought the NEDA Board’s advice regarding the restrictions on foreign participation which may already be lifted or eased without need of legislation.

Foreign ownership

Sought for comment, Socioeconomic Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said yesterday the NEDA Board can soon begin working on the FINL and have it finished before the end of the year.

Pernia added that half of the investment areas identified by the President could be removed from the list without the approval of Congress.

Asked when they expect Congress to pass measures that would relax the restrictions, Pernia said “hopefully within the first quarter next year with the President’s push.”

Based on a technical working group (TWG) report obtained by reporters, areas where foreigners could eventually fully operate include financing and investment companies, as well as education. They may also practice some licensed professions in the Philippines.

Other areas identified in the TWG report are mass media, supplies to state-owned corporations and agencies as well as bath houses and massage clinics.

According to the report, the government can cite Republic Act No. 10881 as its basis in allowing foreign nationals to acquire full ownership of financing and investment companies in the Philippines.

Reciprocity system

The government is also looking at allowing foreign pharmacists and forestry to practice their profession in the country, as long as it is under a reciprocity system.

Along with this, the government may ease the restrictions on education by limiting the 40 percent foreign equity rule only to basic education. The TWG also recommended that high-level skills development be opened to foreign players.

On mass media, the government is considering the easing of foreign equity limitations imposed on marketing and advertising through the Internet.

Contracts for the supply of materials, goods and commodities to government-owned or controlled corporation, company, agency or municipal corporations are also being considered to be removed from the list, also on a reciprocity basis.

Lastly, the TWG has recommended to the Department of Health to classify sauna and steam bathhouses, massage clinics and other like activities under “wellness centers” to allow full foreign ownership.

The Philippines’ so-called “foreign investment negative list” lays out investment areas closed to foreign investment and areas where foreign ownership is limited. The list is periodically evaluated by the NEDA.

In 2015, business groups were dismayed after former President Benigno S. Aquino III kept the list of industries reserved for Filipinos under the 10th Regular Foreign Investment Negative List.


DOTr exec quits over MRT 3

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary for Railways Cesar Chavez resigned on Thursday in the wake of problems plaguing the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT 3).

In his resignation letter addressed to President Duterte, Chavez – who had earlier promised that the government will solve MRT 3’s glitches “within three to six months” – cited sense of “delicadeza” which gave him “no choice but to resign.”

“I’m taking responsibility for all the breakdowns and glitches in the MRT system,” the former transportation official said in a press conference held at the MRT depot in Quezon City.

CALLING IT QUITS – Undersecretary Cesar Chavez, shown inspecting the site of the accident where an MRT rider lost an arm last November 14, cited delicadeza in submitting his irrevocable resignation Thursday. (Kevin Tristan Espiritu | Manila Bulletin)
CALLING IT QUITS – Undersecretary Cesar Chavez, shown inspecting the site of the accident where an MRT rider lost an arm last November 14, cited delicadeza in submitting his irrevocable resignation Thursday. (Kevin Tristan Espiritu | Manila Bulletin)

“The MRT operations have improved since we assumed office, were it not for the unfortunate incidents like decoupling of train coach and the severing of a right arm of a woman who figured in an accident,” he added.

His move should pave the way for the appointment of someone “better qualified to perform the duties and responsibilities” of the job.

Chavez is confident the President will select an official with a deep experience in the railways sector and can implement initiatives to improve the MRT system’s operations.

“I am honored and privileged to have been given the trust and confidence for the subject position and I hope that the problems plaguing the MRT 3 system be resolved properly and with dispatch. I shall continue to support your programs and visions for our country especially in the rail transport sector,” he said.

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said he had no inkling that Chavez wanted to quit and denied he was behind the move. “He has my full trust and confidence. I didn’t ask him to resign,” he stated.

Last November 6, DOTr terminated the entire maintenance contract of Busan Universal Railways, Inc. (BURI) for MRT 3.

Search for maintenance provider

To avoid disrupting services of the railway used by half a million commuters per day, an MRT 3 Maintenance Transition Team (MTT) temporarily took over the line’s maintenance works while the government is in the process of finding a new maintenance provider.

The Philippine National Railways (PNR) and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) are also providing technical support and expertise for the MRT 3 system.

Tugade has created a new Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) for the MTT that is temporarily taking over the MRT operations after the maintenance contract with BURI was terminated. It will procure some critical rehabilitation services and spare parts, including, but not limited to, signaling system to cover parts and services; general overhaul of 38 light rail vehicles (LRVs), air-conditioned units for passenger riding comfort, and total rail replacement.

The DOTr also plans to acquire a technically and financially capable maintenance service provider within three to six months from the government takeover last November 6. The DOTr is looking into a maintenance service contract for 2-3 years from a highly reputable maintenance service provider with a proven track record.

DOTr likewise is aiming for a complete takeover of the whole system by the winning bidder pursuant to the “unsolicited proposal” by second half of next year.

It was recalled that last Nov. 13, one week after the government takeover of the maintenance services from BURI, the third car of a northbound MRT 3 train decoupled between Ayala Station and Buendia Station. The real cause has not yet been identified.

BURI blamed the continuing glitches of the railway to design flaws in the train system and other system components, the bad condition of the rails, and overloading.

Furthermore, “the nebulous suggestion of a supposed ‘sabotage’ is clearly a simple attempt of Usec. Chavez to evade answering the real issues regarding his team’s own failures in the takeover,” it said.

Service to worsen

Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate said the MRT 3 will only get worse with the resignation of Chavez, whom he praised for his willingness to consult with stakeholders in efforts to iron out problems pertaining to the rail systems.

“His (Chavez) irrevocable resignation shows that the commuting public will expect, not an improvement, but an even worse MRT service,” the Makabayan lawmaker said.

“Usec. Chavez is one of the more open public officials under the DOTr and often invites groups and people’s organizations to check or consult on how to deal with the rail problems in the country,” Zarate noted.

While he called Chavez’s exit unfortunate, Zarate claimed that it wasn’t surprising “considering the powerful economic and political interests that he stepped into while addressing the rotten and derailed MRT 3 rail system.”

“The MRT/LRT problem is now emblematic of the grave and utter failure of the government’s onerous privatization program and abandonment of its primary role and control of our public mass transportation system,” the militant solon said.

Find solution

Senators called on Malacañang to immediately find a solution to the pressing problems hounding MRT 3.

Senator Grace Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services, said she finds Chavez’s decision to resign from the DOTr as an unfortunate development and hoped the Palace would find another person who is able and willing to take up the cudgels he left behind.

“I respect Usec. Cesar Chavez for tendering his resignation in the light of the MRT problems. I admire his sense of delicadeza although I doubt that that is the only reason that prompted him to resign. He seemed to be one of the DOTr officials who was determined to fully address all the issues plaguing the MRT,” Poe said in a statement.

“However, it is time to evaluate the actions and the leadership of the DOTr as a whole in connection with how issues hounding the MRT have been addressed. These issues should be properly and expeditiously resolved despite Usec. Chavez’s resignation and especially considering the commuting horrors our people have to go through every day,” she said.

Poe recalled Chavez was instrumental in unearthing the persons involved in anomalies that caused these issues, a matter supported by Sen. Joel Villanueva.

“We have high respect for Usec. Cesar Chavez. He has been at the frontline uncovering anomalies in the MRT. His sudden resignation surprised us,” Villanueva said.

Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said he is unhappy with Chavez’s decision to quit, considering he is one of the more passionate DOTr officials, especially on railway projects.

Ejercito said the appointment of a new officer in charge means he needs time to know the problems and eventual solutions.

“So, I expect more delays and problems to arise in the coming days as whoever the new officer-in-charge needs time to be acquainted and to know the problems,” he said.

“Problem is, we do not really have rail or tech experts who can take over and is equipped with the knowledge already. Panibagong kapaan na naman ito,” he lamented.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian echoed Ejercito’s observation: “The resignation of Usec Chavez is a big loss considering that he had been upfront and straightforward with the problems that surround the department.”

“DOTr urgently needs a good communicator to explain to us, the public, about their plans and solutions to improve the traffic situation of the country,” Gatchalian said.

Sen. Nancy Binay urged Secretary Tugade to immediately step in and appoint Chavez’ replacement since the MRT 3 serves hundreds of thousands of commuters in Metro Manila every day.

“The MRT is a vital component of Metro Manila’s transportation network and we owe the commuting public an uninterrupted service to them,” Binay said in a statement.

Chavez had the guts to find ways and solutions to the problems besetting the MRT 3 despite the odds and challenges, she added. (With reports from Ellson A. Quismorio, Hannah L. Torregoza, and PNA)


8 years on, justice still sought for ‘Maguindanao Massacre’

Eight years after the infamous November 2009 Maguindanao massacre, rights groups expressed their relentless support to the families of the victims as they renewed their calls to the government to dismantle all private armies and paramilitary groups.

“We share the plight of the families of the Ampatuan massacre victims for justice, and demand for speedy trial and ultimately, conviction of those involved in one of the worst attacks against journalists and civilians in recent history,” said Evangeline Hernandez, chairperson of Hustisya.

Three students from Lanao region view the concrete shrine bearing the names of 58 people, among them media workers, slain in the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre. (Ali G. Macabalang / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Three students from Lanao region view the concrete shrine bearing the names of 58 people, among them media workers, slain in the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre.

For her part, Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said they are also hopeful that the more than 100 individuals charged with 58 counts of murder in the said incident will be convicted soon.

She added that those that allowed the widespread presence and proliferation of “private armies” should also be prosecuted and made accountable.

5th accused dies

Coinciding with the eighth anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre, another accused in the case died yesterday morning due to heart failure.

Information from a staff member of Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221, said the accused SPO1 Eduardo Ong of the 1508th Provincial Mobile Group (PMG) of the PNP in Maguindanao died at the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital.

The report said Ong was rushed to the said hospital Wednesday night due to difficulty in breathing, but expired the following morning due to congestive heart failure.

Ong, 59, was the fifth accused to die while in detention.

Read more: Another suspect in Maguindanao massacre dies

Justice nears

Meanwhile, Malacañang said the conclusion of the long and winding trial on the Maguindanao Massacre is now drawing near.

Communications Undersecretary Joel Egco, head of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), said that at the speed the trial is moving on, the case may be resolved within the term of President Duterte.

“After a long and tedious search for justice, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. We expect justice to be completely solved for the victims and families of this most gruesome crime,” he said during the Thursday palace press briefing.

Egco the most welcomed developments in the trial, so far, is the prosecution’s termination of the presentations of 190 witnesses, while 63 have been presented by the defense so far. The massacre left 58 persons dead, including 32 members of the media. (With a report from Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)


It’s official: Pres. Duterte signs proclamation terminating peace talks with Reds

President Rodrigo Duterte signed yesterday Proclamation No. 360 that terminates the government’s peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).

This file photo taken on July 30, 2017 shows guerrillas of the New People's Army (NPA) in formation in the Sierra Madre mountain range. (AFP PHOTO / Noel CELIS / MANILA BULLETIN)
This file photo taken on July 30, 2017 shows guerrillas of the New People’s Army (NPA) in formation in the Sierra Madre mountain range.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Duterte signed the said proclamation Thursday afternoon, less than 24 hours after Duterte said he will order the arrest of non-armed legal fronts for conspiracy to commit terrorism under the Human Security Act (HSA).

Earlier, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) announced that the formal talks have been officially cancelled following the President’s pronouncement that the CPP-NPA-NDF will now be considered as terrorists and criminals.

The Chief Executive also ordered the cancellation of all peace talks and meetings with the NDF-CPP-NPA.

Roque reiterated that the government has exerted all efforts to pursue the peace negotiations but said that the communist rebels failed to reciprocate the government’s initiatives.

“While we agreed to resume peace talks with the aforementioned group and exerted our best efforts to accelerate the signing and implementation of the final peace agreement, the NDF-CPP-NPA has engaged in acts of violence and hostilities,” Roque said in a statement late Thursday night.

“We find it unfortunate that their members have failed to show their sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peaceful negotiations,” he added.

“The President, as we all know, has always wanted to leave a legacy of peace under his administration. He has, in fact, walked the extra mile for peace,” he continued.

Roque said Duterte, despite terminating the talks, is still hoping for peace to come even if not within his term, leaving it to God’s will.

“Rest assured that he will continuously pray that we may all find the peace that we seek for our beloved country in the fullness of God’s time,” Roque said.

The OPAPP is expected to issue the formal notice of the cancellation of the peace talks.

On Saturday, Duterte said he is no longer inclined to resume the peace talks with the Reds, especially after their “intentional” ambush in Talakad, Bukidnon on November 10 which left a four-month-old baby dead.

“No, I am not anymore inclined to [pursue the peace talks with them]. Ayaw kong makipag-usap sa kanila. ‘Di lang, nagpapahinga lang mga sundalo ko (I don’t want to talk to them. My soldiers are just resting). But we will also go on an offensive,” he said.


DOJ junks drug raps vs Faeldon, 11 BOC officials

Former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon/PHILSTAR PHOTO BY EDD GUMBAN

MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday dismissed the criminal charges filed against former Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and 11 other BOC officials in connection with the PHP6.4 billion shabu shipment seized in Valenzuela City last May 26.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the DOJ panel headed by Assistant State Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes dismissed the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s (PDEA) complaint for conspiracy to import illegal drugs and protecting or coddling of drug traffickers under Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act), negligence and tolerance under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code, and corrupt practices of public officers under Section 3 of R.A. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) for lack of probable cause.

According to Aguirre, the DOJ cited PDEA’s “failure to state with clarity the acts or omission supposedly committed by the above-named BOC respondents that would constitute violation of the offense charged” as basis in clearing Faeldon of the charges.

“Further, the evidence adduced by the PDEA in support of the charges were insufficient to establish probable case. Thus, the Panel is constrained to take into consideration the defense raised by the respondents,” read the resolution.

Aside from Faeldon, also cleared from raps were then BOC Director Milo Maestrecampo, Director Neil Estrella, Intelligence Officer Joel Pinawin, Intelligence Officer Oliver Valiente, Atty. Jeleena Magsuci, Atty. Philip Maronilla, Alexandra Y. Ventura, Randolph O. Cabansag, Dennis J. Maniego, Dennis Cabildo and John Edillor.

The DOJ panel likewise dismissed PDEA’s complaint for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) regulation under Sec, 32 of RA 9165 against the agents and investigators of the National Bureau of Investigation-Anti Organized and Transnational Crime Division (NBI-AOTCD), namely: Atty. Dennis Siyhian, Atty. Marie Catherine Nolasco, SI Marfil B. Baso, SI Joselito C. Guilen, SI Darwin Francisco and SI Edgardo C. Kawada.

The panel found that under the circumstances attendant to the case, and pursuant to relevant DDB Regulations and jurisprudence, the NBI-AOTCD is justified to retain custody of the 500 kilograms of shabu which they seized, examined and investigated.

PDEA’s complaint against the corporate officers of Hong Fei Logistics was also dismissed for failure of the PDEA to show that these corporate officers knowingly consented to or actively participated in the importation of the subject shipment.

Also, the case against Emily Anoche Dee for maintaining a drug den is likewise dismissed. The Panel finds lack of knowledge on the part of Emily that her property being rented will be used as a transshipment point of the subject drugs.

Regarding the case against Fidel Anoche Dee filed by the NBI-AOTCD, the same was also dismissed in view of the existence of an earlier case filed against him by the PDEA before the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela City.

Pursuant to Department Order No. 004 Series of January 4, 2017, the dismissal of the cases against the BOC personnel, the NBI-AOTCD agents and investigators, the corporate officers of Hong Fei Logistics and against Emily Anoche Dee and Fidel Anoche Dee shall be subject to automatic review by the Secretary of Justice.


Senate tackles TRAIN, okays higher P250K ceiling for income tax exemption

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara. INTERAKSYON FILE

MANILA – Starting 2018, workers with a take-home pay of less than P250,000 annually will be exempted from payment of income tax. This, after Senate ways and means committee chief Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara accepted an amendment raising the exemption ceiling from P150,000 to P250,000.

The amendment was proposed by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto as senators resumed plenary deliberations Wednesday on the House-approved version of the Duterte administration’s tax reform package.

As a result of the amendment approved Wednesday, the tax relief will be given in one blow, no longer on staggered basis as first outlined in Angara’s proposal as the main sponsor of the Senate version of what’s billed the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN).

The higher exemption ceiling for income tax will also cover professionals and the self employed, and the informal economy, so that even sari sari store owners or traders in merchant hubs like Divisoria can enjoy it.

Angara said the amendment will substantially boost the take home pay of workers starting next year, if it is enacted.

Right now, the exemption from income tax only applies to the minimum wage earner. The current setup is so regressive that many compensation income workers would rather decline salary hikes as these could only result in bloating the taxable income but have no impact on take-home pay.

Progressive rates

Workers earning P250,000 and above annually will be paying different rates, calibrated as income rise, but lawmakers said the new brackets are still more progressive than the existing tiers.

For example, those earning over P250,000 but not more than P400,000 will pay tax of 20% of the excess over P250,000.

Revenue goals on target: Angara

In a statement issued just before the plenary deliberations began, Angara said the Senate version of TRAIN has met the revenue goal of the government after the ways and means committee chairman introduced his amendments to Senate bill 1592.

Based on the estimates by the Department of Finance (DOF), SB 1592, taking into consideration the proposed amendments, would yield P159.5 billion in revenue—a hundred billion more than the previous revenue estimate of P59.9 billion.

“We were able to meet the revenue target using the more comprehensive and accurate data that the DOF has provided the committee after the filing of the committee report,” said Angara.

The revenue boost was significantly sourced from the amendments to the provisions on the expansion of the value-added tax (VAT) base. From the repeal of certain VAT special laws alone, the estimated revenue gain is raised from P14 billion to P45.5 billion.

Another major source of revenue is the doubling of the prevailing documentary stamp tax rates which will approximately yield P40 billion.

Documentary stamp tax is a tax on documents, instruments, loan agreements and papers evidencing the acceptance, assignment, sale or transfer of an obligation, right or property incident thereto.

These include stamp tax on bank checks which will be doubled from P1.50 to P3; on original issue of shares of stock, P1 to P2; sales or transfer of shares of stock, P0.75 to P1.50; certificates of profits or interest in property or accumulations, P0.50 to P1.

Such amendment was first brought up by Recto during the period of interpellations.

“The stamp tax rates are already due for updating since such rates were set two decades ago just like our income tax rates. This increase in stamp tax rates will also improve the progressivity of the tax reform package, as this will mostly affect the rich who have the ability to pay additional taxes,” Angara said.

Angara explained that the ways and means committee sought to come up with a version of the TRAIN bill that would raise the take-home pay of Filipino workers by providing tax relief to 99% of individual income taxpayers and, at the same time, meet the revenue target so as not to impair the government’s capability to finance its programs and projects.

The Senate version likewise provided more specific earmarking provisions so that revenues will be allocated to programs that will directly benefit the poor. These include the funding of the free college law, unconditional cash transfer for the bottom 50% poorest households, free medicines for poor families and feeding programs in areas with high incidence of hunger, infrastructure programs to address congestion and improve mass transport, among others.


Sen. Kiko: ‘Gaguhan na! Peke ang drug war’

Senator Pangilinan, right, and President Duterte.

“Gaguhan na talaga!” (They’re really taking us for fools now!)

Senator Francis Pangilinan on Wednesday posted on Facebook this not-so-mild reaction to the Department of Justice’s dismissal of drug smuggling charges against former Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and 11 other BOC officials.

“Ang lakas naman ng mga ito … Kapag kakampi pinapalusot. Kapag katunggali iniipit(Such influence … Cronies get let off, but opponents get squeezed),” Pangilinan remarked, seething at the junking of the charges against Faeldon et al in connection with a P6.4-billion shabu shipment seized in Valenzuela City last May 26. The senator said the development was emblematic of the Duterte Administration’s uneven and unjust waging of its anti-drug program.

See also: DOJ junks drug raps vs Faeldon, 11 BOC officials

“Akala ko ba galit sila sa droga? Kapag maliliit at mahihirap at ilang gramo lang ng shabu, pinapatay. Kapag tone-toneladang shabu ang pinupuslit ng malalapit sa mga nakaupo, pinapalusot (They hate drugs? The small fry with grams of meth are rubbed out, but when it’s tons of shabu by those close to the powers that be, they go scot-free),” Pangilinan added.


“Peke ang drug war ng adminsitrasyon na ito (This administration’s drug war is a sham),” Pangilinan remarked.

Senator Francis Pangilinan criticized the government’s campaign against illegal drugs in a Facebook post Wednesday, November 22, 2017.

The senator called on the public to join him in expressing outrage on social media, recalling the flood of anger when legislators attempted to slash the operating budget of the Commission on Human Rights to just P1,000 next year.

He urged netizens to let DOJ feel the public’s revulsion at the way the department is supposedly trashing justice and truth.

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