Profiting From Misery
We are thanking the heavens for ‘making’ typhoon Pepeng skirt Metro Manila, even as it it dilly-dallying off extreme Northern Luzon and dumping fringe rains over the Cagayan Valley.
So this early the government of the day is telling us the Philippines’ dubious ranking as top rice importer will continue through to next year.
Over the weekend this writer got information that the National Food Authority’s budget will now likely reach PhP 8-B in the upcoming election year.
And yes, you guessed it.
The long-suspected cabal that corners rice importations are already rining up their cash registers for the anticipated windfall.
But this is just a side story for now.
The real headliner is about what’s called in the vervacular as pag-e-embudo’ or the funnelling of all incoming disaster relied donation from overseas to what’s ballyhooed as a “one-stop shop system for tax-free foreign donations” so the government “can efficiently manage the overall relief opwration.”
The government has set up a one-stop shop system for tax-free foreign donations in an attempt to manage the deluge of assistance from overseas.
Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales:
It’s our initiative to prevent unscrupulous persons to take advantage of the crisis situation. This is a safety net mechanism. This is also to prevent smuggling. The one-stop shop system is intended to ease the release and delivery of goods for victims of Storm “Ondoy”.
I’d say amen.
But what’s actually taking place is the goverrnment collects taxes on donations for calamity victims not sent through official channels!
For the information of the ‘honorable’ customs chief, long-described being close to a certain ‘gentleman, the Tariff and Customs Code allows non-profit, welfare, religious and charitable organizations registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and duly licensed or accredited to receive duty-free donations.
So why the funnelling???
Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo order last Sept. 29 thus gives rise to suspicions that government itselk want to squeeze our profit even from disaster aid given its ballooning deficit.
Fr. Benjamin E. Alforque, president of the U.S.-based National Alliance for Filipino Concerns:
Taxing donations that do not go through the DSWD is only a manifestation of further exploitation of Filipinos overseas by the Philippine government, which takes pride in its ‘Bagong Bayani,’ but is actually doing otherwise. This move can only lead to our Kababayans getting discouraged in sending much needed help to the motherland, whose only concern is to extend aid to their own families and to other distressed fellow Filipinos during these trying times.
These steps being taken by Arroyo to control the outpouring of support to the Philippines is a display of arrogance, making her administration look good and undermining efforts of people’s organizations whose relief efforts are made possible even without help from her government.
John Leonard Monterona, regional coordinator of Migrantein the Middle East:
The directive is unreasonable because Filipino communities prefer to entrust their donations to Migrante and other people’s organizations rather than to government posts or agencies.
Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero (chair of the Senate ways and means committee) :
The DSWD may not be able to handle the outpouring of donations from Filipino groups abroad and this will just delay the assistance.
Sadly many Filipinos abroad distrust the government and do not want to entrust their donations through its agencies.
Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, president of the United Opposition:
It is indeed a sad commentary when most overseas Filipinos would rather donate to private charitable groups than to the national government. But this is not the time for the national government to be sensitive or to assert itself, but rather to show flexibility. It sends a wrong signal when the national government is seen as profiting from a calamity by collecting taxes on donation for calamity victims.
Will Malacanang snap out of its latest back-handed stunt???
Wait, has the Palace blinked?
GMA News is reporting this:
Department of Finance (DOF):
We are n the process of cutting the processing time for the release of donations to 24 hours from four to five days.
Documentary requirements have also been reduced “to the barest minimum’
Please inform us right away if anybody from the Bureau of Customs asked for any tax and duty payment on these imported relief goods from any organization.
I will wait if this report is true.