Saturday, July 16, 2011

Labor center assails DOF’s plan to increase self-employed taxes

MANILA, July 17, 2011—Militant labor center, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) assailed the Department of Finance’s (DOF) plan to increase the tax payment of workers, under self-employed and professional categories in order to beef up government funds.
Joselito “Ka Lito” Ustarez, vice chair of the KMU said in a statement that the DOF, particularly the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) should go after tax evaders and large corporations, and not after the measly income of individuals.
“It is simply callous and opportunistic for the Aquino government to tax poor vendors, jeepney barkers, sari-sari store owners, and others in similar employment status. Callous because it shows a lack of understanding that they only raise a meager income. Opportunistic because it aims to raise tax collection from people it hardly supports,” said Ustarez.
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima estimates P340 billion additional income for the government if the tax of professionals and self-employed be increased by a certain percentage as the latest Labor Force Survey shows that 30.4 percent of the employed employees are under self-employed category. For the Finance Secretary, it is an opportune time to tap this portion of the labor force as a new source of income.
However, Ustarez sees this move as an evidence of the incapability of the Benigno C. Aquino III government to create measures in improving its tax collection. He also criticized the bachelor president of being pro-rich, instead of pro-poor as the Chief Executive had approved the waving of the P64 billion unpaid taxes by the Team Energy Japan Corp. and the Aboitiz Power Corporation that are supposedly to go to the Quezon Provincial Government’s chest. This was done last January, revealed Ustarez.
“Purisima is also boasting that his fiscal team encountered a case last year with liabilities as high as P25 billion,” said Ustarez.
Ustarez advised the government that to be able to increase tax collections, it should waive the tax holidays given to big companies and conglomerates, run after tax evaders and tax foreign investors.
“Our self-employed kababayans barely earn a living through informal jobs because the government failed to provide them decent work,” Ustarez reminded Purisima. (Noel Sales Barcelona)

Former 3 term Aurora governor reopens political comeback

Macapagal Arroyo is welcomed by Ex-gov. Eddie Ong.  

BALER, Aurora, July 16, 2011-Former three-term Aurora governor Edgardo L. Ong has announced his plans to return in politics in this province following a decade-long rest.

In his short message to newsmen, Ong said that to serve people is still in his blood, saying that he is now open again to serve the province.

“After closing the book on my political career last 2004, I am opening it again, if there’s a chance. I would like to help the Aquino administration in serving the people,” he said.

It could be remembered that Ong's wife bowed out of politics following a resounding defeat in the hands of outgoing three-term Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo in the 2004 gubernatorial race; Eddie is reportedly eyeing to run as mayor of Baler whose incumbent mayor is Dr. Arthur J. Angara –the brother of Senator Edgardo J. Angara- who is now eyeing the position of governor in this province.

Eddie reiterated that if there’s a chance to serve, I would want to. Serving the people still runs in my blood, adding that Ong is a close “Yellow Army” of P’Noy Aquino and was one of those who campaigned for the Chief Executive in Aurora together with the provincial chairman of the Liberal Party Vice Governor Gerardo Noveras.

It could be remembered also that the Ongs belong to the once proud and mighty political dynasty that lorded it over Aurora politics for several years where Eddie is a scion of the late lieutenant governor Estrello Sr. who was mayor of this town for 15 years while his late uncle, Leonardo Ong once served as mayor in the municipality of Maria Aurora for also 15 years.

One of his brothers, Estrello Jr. ran for congressman in 2004 but lost to Angara-Castillo’s nephew, outgoing three-term Congressman Juan Edgardo  “Sonny” Angara.       

At present, Ong’s relatives who are in the position serving the people are Senior Board Member Pedro “Bobong” Ong Jr., incumbent Baler Councilor Dan “Boyet” Ong and Maria Aurora incumbent councilor Enrico “Eric” Ong Cordova who is the manager of Radyo Natin 88.50 FM in Baler.

Ong is expected to slug it out with incumbent Vice Mayor Nelianto Bihasa and two other aspirants in a potential four-cornered fight. Others reportedly angling for the mayorship are former mayor Emil Etcubanez and a known “mistah” of Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, former police general Francisco Zubia Jr., who lost to Ong by some 20,000 votes in the 1995 gubernatorial race.

A native of Barangay Poblacion, Ong ran and won a three-way fight for vice governor in 1987 under the Liberal Party-Salonga wing. He became governor by succession on February 16, 1991 after the then-governor Eunice Cucueco died in a plane crash.

The Ongs are siblings of the late Estrello Sr. who served as lieutenant governor when Aurora was still a sub-province of Quezon during the term of the late former President Diosdado Macapagal.

Ong served as vice governor after the 1986 EDSA Revolution. He assumed the governorship by virtue of succession after then governor, Eunice Cucueco.

Ong ran for governor under the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino where he beat Dr. Loida Escasa who gave him a big scare, losing by a scant 100 votes last 1992. In 1995, Ong won reelection against Zubia, who was trashed by the electorate for styling himself as among the police officers embroiled in the “Kuratong Baleleng” rub-out case.       

Ong secured a third and last term in a grudge rematch with Escasa who got drubbed convincingly by some 10,000 votes in the 1998 polls.

Chit Ong, wife of Eddie succeeded as governor by trouncing then-vice governor Isaias Noveras Jr. by 1,800 votes in 2001 who is the elder brother of incumbent Vice Governor Gerardo Noveras who is now eyeing for gubernatorial race on 2013.

The Ong couple, the first husband-and-wife team to rule the Capitol, is blessed with three kids: Michael (also known as Macky)-a lawyer and working with P’NOy, Cristine-Director of advertising company and Gian Carlo-a businessman. Curiously, their wedding godfather is Angara-Castillo’s elder brother, Senator Angara.

Michael is a fresh graduate of the UP College of Law. He is an assistant secretary assigned with the office of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Eduardo de Mesa. His wife, Mikee is a corporate lawyer serving as legal manager for the Philippines of the Southern land Global Services.

Cristine is a mass communications graduate of the University of the Assumption and is currently director of an advertising company while Gian Carlo is a graduate of culinary arts at the Center for Culinary Arts.  

Ong said among his prominent accomplishments during his term as governor were the establishment of the United States Agency for International Development-funded Aurora trading center, concreting of the Bazal Road and socio-economic services to the people of the province among others. (Jason de Asis)

Film on media killings to raise funds for journalists

MANILA, July 16, 2011—A film highlighting the spate of media killings in the country is set to hit the movie theatres soon.

The film was produced as a special project of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) aimed to raise funds to help its members.

The NUJP is a nationwide organization of Filipino journalists and has around 1,000 members in around 60 chapters in Manila and the provinces.

The movie titled “DEADLINE (The Reign of Impunity),” is about media killings in the Philippines, highlighted by the November 23, 2009 massacre in Maguindanao.

A special screening of the film is slated on July 22, 2011, 7PM at SM North EDSA Cinema 10. The film was directed by Joel Lamangan and written by Bonifacio Ilagan.

The project is part of the group’s advocacy to defend press freedom and protect journalists in the country.

The spate of media killings has earned the Philippines the shady distinction of one of the most dangerous places for journalists to work, second only to Iraq.
NUJP hopes that the film will raise awareness among the people on state of the press in the country today.

The organization aims “to promote and protect the economic interest and social well-being of the working press, upgrade professional skills, uplift the standards of journalistic ethics, implement welfare programs for its members, and develop solidarity among all journalists.” (CBCPNews)

Farmers start tilling in disputed Hacienda Luisita

MANILA, July 16, 2011—Hacienda Luisita farm-workers had taken the risk of tilling the 500-hectare land sold by the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. to the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. of the Yuchengcos, claiming that the land, since 1956, is theirs as they were the ones who toiled, from morning till dusk, just to make the HLI “alive.”
Around 200 farm worker-beneficiaries from the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) flocked to the 500 hectare-land owned by the RCBC, saying that they were only reclaiming what was truly their own. Armed with pick mattocks and other farming tools, the farmers had transformed the RCBC land into a collective farming unit.
“Years it has been idle and non-productive so we decided that these would be the best start to continue our collective farming. Our priority is to provide farm workers lands to till and these 500 hectares is suited to our “kampanyang bawi’ [land reclaiming campaign] and bungkalan [land tilling] which signifies our legal claim and assertion for our right to land. We are not afraid of legal repercussions because we have the backing of the majority of farm worker beneficiaries,” said AMBALA spokesperson and UMA secretary general Rodel Mesa.
The lot, which is located at Barangay Balete, will serve as one of the centers of the “Land not Referendum, Distribute Hacienda Luisita and Fight for Genuine Land Reform!” campaign launched not so long ago, when the High Tribunal had decided to push for a referendum to decide the “fate” of the disputed hacienda.
Meanwhile, the farm-workers assailed the RCBC management, and even the Supreme Court, for allegedly not looking into the matters about the hacienda with open eyes.
“Doing business transaction with banks such as RCBC involving money and properties requires many documents to ensure a clean cut deal. Hacienda Luisita was in a land row between the Cojuangcos and the contesting farm worker beneficiaries for more than two decades and the bank didn’t bother to investigate what was unacceptable and now recognized by the Supreme Court as “innocent purchase“ is absurd even!” said Mesa.
“Under the agrarian law such transaction is prohibited in areas land reform program is in effect. RCBC should file a case against the Cojuangcos for deceiving them to bought land that is intended for distribution,” Mesa added.
Mesa has also some words for the President:
"We are reminding the President and his relatives… it is government fund that is running on the sugar state’s veins since 1957 when Jose Cojuangco forged agreement with the state managed GSIS that within ten years the property should be distributed to the farm workers. The Cojuangcos violated the agreement using government influence and violence. That is why we are in a position to pursue what is legal and just. Our situation is academic, Hacienda Luisita is government land, subject to land reform, distribute it to farm worker beneficiaries, period. The Cojuangco’s are truly the one’s making all these complicated.” (Noel Sales Barcelona)


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