Monday, January 21, 2013


MANILA, January 21, 2013-Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan today says that the United States government is liable to pay damages incurred when their USS Guardian (MCM 5) ran aground on the Philippines protected Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"Apologies are not enough. The damage has been done. Every day that the USS sits on top of our protected reefs is a day too late as far as the damage being done is concerned. We have laws that explicitly express accountability on persons or entities found to have caused damage to the Tubbataha reef."

RA 10067, an act establishing the Tubbataha Reefs as a protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act and the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan Act, provides that no person or entity shall enter, enjoy or utilize any portion of the Tubbataha Reefs and Natural Park and the resources therein for whatever purpose without prior permission from the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (TPAMB). Section 19 says that a violation shall be subject to imprisonment of not less than 6 months but not more than one year of imprisonment and a fine of P100,000 but not more than P300,000 as may be determined by the TPAMB. Section 20 says that damages to the reef shall subject the responsible person or entity to the payment of fines set by TPAMB based on current valuation standards and to the payment of the cost of restoration.

"We urge Philippine government officials to also conduct their own inquiry of the incident and be forthright in discussing the matter with the Filipino public. For what was the US Navy doing in a protected environment? Surely, the technological prowess of a US Naval ship would be able to tell them they were on top of a reef? The TPAMB, together with the Department of Justice, must impose the appropriate penalties for this incursion. Friends who thrash their friends' treasured possessions must be held liable for their actions. The U.S. cannot expect us to bear the damages still being done by their Navy ship."

Legarda Seeks Approval on of Three Int’l Tax Treaties

MANILA, January 21, 2013-At the resumption of Senate Session today, January 21, Senator Loren Legarda said that she will seek the approval on third reading of three important international tax treaties.

“We are going to seek the approval of the Philippines-France Protocol, the Philippines-Qatar Tax Treaty, and the Philippines-Kuwait Tax Treaty. The benefits of tax treaties, especially to developing countries, cannot be gainsaid.  They help the Contracting States to better enforce domestic laws so as to reduce tax evasion, and they likewise promote technology transfer, and international academic, cultural, and sports exchanges,” she explained.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, noted that the PH-France Protocol broadens the scope of information that may be exchanged relating to tax administration, including bank information.

She further stated that the Treaties with Kuwait and Qatar work toward the elimination of double taxation by allowing as credit the taxes paid or accrued under the laws of Kuwait against Philippine tax, subject to certain limitations.

“These two treaties include articles whereby the Contracting States can exchange necessary information, in particular for prevention of fraud or evasion of taxes,” she said.

“Improving on our existing treaties and entering new ones is a must in our constantly changing global financial landscape. Examining and reexamining these aspects of bilateral relations will strengthen our economy and financial institutions,” she concluded.


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