Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Looking very harassed.

Free at Last

Ces Orena Drilon, the usually polished and sophiscticated ABS CBN news anchor, looks very harassed in this photo. Who wouldn't be? After nine days of captivity in the deep jungles of Sulu, with Abu Sayyaf bandits threatening to behead you unless your family chokes up PHP15M in ransom, I would look worse than that. Thank God, they got out of this ordeal alive.

Prayers work, indeed.

I really like Ces Crilon. I often watch the late night news and marvel at her poise, intelligence and wit on camera. I remember her undaunted coverage of the Peninsula Coup and how she managed to keep her composure despite the unexpected turn of events. She is a tour de force.

Admittedly though, Ces says it was her own brazenness that put her and cameraman colleagues in harm's way. Her unrelenting pursuit of the hottest story almost costed her her life. Now, she says she values her life more and knows what is truly important is her loved ones and family.

Ayoko ng TAX!

Yesterday, 18 Jun, PGMA signed into law Republic Act No. 9504 or the tax relief act. This law exempts minimum income wage earner from paying income taxes, which amounts to a couple a hundred bucks of savings every payday.

This law also increases tax exemption to Php50k regardless of the person's civil status. Where before, married and head of families earners usually had a bigger tax exemption and as such bigger take home pay, this law places everybody in the same playing (taxing) field. Moreover, this law also raises child tax exemption from a mere Php10k per child to Php25k per child.

This ought to mean a bigger tax exemption for me and yet, I expect it to barely make an impact on my daily living. These days, prices of every consumer items increase at a much faster rate than one's monthly income. In a family with one child and double incomes, I still feel that we are only eking out a living. Though my salary is more than double the income of daily wage earners, I still feel that we are living on a hand to mouth existence.

If I had a choice, I would never pay taxes at all. Government says they are estimated to lose Php14.2 B annually from these tax exemptions. I have always thought that those who earn say 10k or less, or even up to 50k, should not be taxed at all. Where do these taxes go anyway?

You guessed it right. Straight into their own pockets. Government claims the taxes fund vital health, education and infrastructure projects. Yeah right. Just imagine, how it was supposed to fund the ZTE broadband deal until every ordinary Juan and Pedro in this country learned the story about its multi-billion kickbacks. The price of almost all government projects are as big as the kickbacks required to get those inferior and thoughtless projects going. They enter flawed and disadvantageous contract, sometimes even with foreign governments and lenders, precisely because their share of the loot money is so lucrative.

It is estimated that a normal government project always makes room for a 25% kickback for officials responsible for pushing through with that transaction. So the bigger the price of the project, the larger your kickback pay becomes. This is one profitable business venture for most officials of the land. And the most amazing thing about this is that, no matter how ludicrous and hopelessly useless the outcome of their project becomes, they never get sued for it. They are never held accountable and do not feel personal responsibility over the misuse of public resources because they are not spending their own money in the first place. They figuratively get away with murder with no more than a tap on the back as their punishment.

Now, why would I want to shelve my hard earned pesos on that. If I were to give taxes, which I'm perfectly willing to do under different circumstances, I want to be given the right to choose exactly where my money goes. I want to know exactly what foundation or project my money is spent, and to make sure its not getting wasted. Or just used to further enrich these government officials with multiple secret dollar accounts abroad.

Do they really need the money more than us?

17 on 17th

Boo hoo! The LA Lakers should have just handed the trophy straight to Pierce and company's arms. A 39-point advantage in an NBA Finals Game, come on! They should have saved themselves from the embarrassment by choosing not to play at all.

But at least it was a fitting end to the Celtics, who after two decades of drought, got their 17th NBA trophy on the 17th of June.

What the Celtics fans chanted to Kobe Bryant, vaunted best NBA player at the moment, maybe harsh but oh so true, "You are not (Michael) Jordan."

Indeed, he was not.

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