Continued from Part 1
Higher Tax-Free Bonus Ceiling Made Into Law
The timely law that raises the ceiling for taxable bonuses (from PhP30,000 to PhP82,000) sounds like real good news. It’s important to bear in mind, though, that it’s just the Senate version. There’s still the Lower House version, which has set a ceiling lower than PhP82,000. Additionally, there’s President Aquino’s veto power that can be quickly used if the ever-stern Kim Henares successfully convinces the President that citizens shouldn’t be allowed to experience tax reductions, lest they get used to it and demand more. Remember how Henares invented ridiculously high numbers of the supposed losses to the government if the cap is raised on tax exempt bonuses? The BIR will certainly try to convince President Aquino to avoid any attempt to reduce taxes and Aquino is not unlikely to lend his ears.
It’s common knowledge. The BIR will never agree to any measure that will reduce the collectable taxes in this country. BIR Chief Kim Henares has no qualms admitting this and demonstrating her compulsory greed in media interviews. As such, it would make sense taking a guarded optimism stance when it comes to developments involving tax reduction efforts.
Nevertheless, President Aquino is knocking down his critics with the news of reducing taxes on bonuses. This development is so timely that it easily reaches the appreciative thoughts of most Filipinos. Well, congratulations Mr. President for this new step in your efforts in restoring your reduced popularity.
The International Community Backs the Philippines Against China’s Aggression
This is the claim of Malacañang’s mouthpieces, especially after President Aquino’s meeting with other leaders during the APEC and ASEAN summits. Unfortunately, they fail to mention that what all members of the international community have been saying is that they are supporting the Philippines’ position in trying to reach a resolution through peaceful means. There hasn’t been any state, not even Vietnam that expressed a clear intention of supporting the Philippines per se. What the European Union, the United States, and members of the ASEAN bloc have been expressing is support for the peaceful and lawful resolution of the conflict. This kind of support is something that yields myriad interpretations that even the Chinese can also interpret in ways that would be favorable to them.
It’s also worth noting that even EDCA, it appears, can’t be relied upon in case China decides to continue its conquest of the territory rightfully claimed by the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea. While interpolating Acting Solicitor General Florin Hilbay during the oral arguments on the constitutionality of EDCA, Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio reiterated his position that there is no guarantee that the United States will be there to support the Philippines in case tensions in the West Philippine Sea continue to escalate. While the Aquino government considers the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) as an achievement for the country, it’s worth pointing out that it’s not really a very beneficial treaty after all.
Binay’s Popularity Declines
The fall of VP Binay’s Aquino-rivaling immense popularity is something not only the Liberal Party and other Aquino allies would want to see. Many citizens also want other Filipinos to realize what kind of a politician and person the second highest official of the Philippine government is. The issues raised against Binay have been in the news for months but it’s only in the most recent surveys that the effects of the allegations manifested. As Binay continues to elude the obligation to properly answer the accusations hurled against him, his popularity will and should continue falling. It’s just like what happened to Aquino. He continued insisting that he did no wrong and his popularity and approval ratings started to dwindle.
A definite knockdown – The deluge of revelations and allegations against the Vice-President greatly benefits President Aquino. Now, the attention that once focused on the Aquino government’s various misdeeds has shifted to Binay. Just when the veep started to get bold enough to criticize the Aquino government, he is now encountering an unfamiliar force that eclipses the popularity and virtually unquestioning approval he enjoyed in Makati. Binay knew what was coming for him so he decided to withdraw from direct attacks and focused his efforts in wooing the public through his TV and radio infomercials, which are viewed by many as forms of premature campaigning. Well, he is not refuting the criticisms of premature campaigning anyway. He also has a bunch of columnists in a number of papers regularly writing pieces for this defense.
Without a doubt, President Aquino has been getting the upper hand these days. He is poised to recover his popularity soon not because he managed to prove his accusers and critics wrong but because many of his critics have entangled themselves with similar issues of corruption and wrongdoing.
The little victories of not having to reenact a budget, “getting rid” of pork in the national budget, having a milestone for the FOI bill, reducing taxes on bonuses, gaining the “backing” of the international community in the West Philippine Sea conflict, and finally putting a dent on the inexplicable popularity of VP Binay are things worth celebrating not by the Filipino people. These are small triumphs for Aquino and his allies alone, not for the many Filipinos who continue to suffer from the evils of patronage politics, incompetence, and hypocrisy in government. Thankfully, these are just six knockdowns against Aquino’s political opponents. There’s no knockout win for Aquino yet as a number of political figures who somehow remain credible are providing the much needed voices to tell Aquino that that there are things he still has to rectify.
Stock photos from POC. Some rights reserved.