History may repeat itself

Call it fanaticism or any other name. But the devotion of some 17-million Filipinos to the Black Nazarene shows the piety of Roman Catholics.

The traslacion is more than enough proof that Catholicism remains deeply rooted in us.

My gulay, even foreigners come to Manila to witness this spectacle. It is just unparalleled!

Many believe that touching the image of the Black Nazarene could bring miracles.

This is why I am glad I am a Catholic.

* * *

I am confused with the statement of Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque that he was given permission by President Duterte to give personal comments on the Court of Appeals’ decision on the Gerry Ortega case. The appellate court cleared former Palawan governor Joel Reyes for the murder of Ortega, a journalist and activist.

I cannot by any language separate the position of Roque as a presidential spokesman and his personal belief as a former lawyer of the Ortega family.

Roque went on to say that the release of Reyes was a sad development for freedom of the press and that the murder of Ortega was a classic case of extra-legal killing.

But how can you separate Roque’s words from his position as presidential spokesman?

This is something for Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!

* * *

Pulse Asia’s Ulat ng Bayan found, in mid-December 2017, that eight out of 10 Filipinos have given President Duterte high trust and approval ratings.

I can believe that.

President Duterte has been doing many things that the people have been clamoring for. He has been firing executive officials for traveling too much at the people’s expense. No other president has done this before.

Even in his war on drugs, the President continues to have the Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority run the show. The Philippine National Police can just come to help the PDEA when needed. The result—there are fewer summary killings.

As far as the people are concerned, President Duterte is the change they never experienced under the Aquino administration. PNoy just had his hypocritical Daang Matuwid and selective justice.

With eight in 10 Filipinos believing in him, the President can do so much more.

He can, for instance, stop both the House of Representatives and the Senate from ramming down Constituent Assembly down our throats. This could lead to the extension of terms of all duly-elected incumbent officials, from the President all the way down to barangay officials.

The President himself has said repeatedly that he is against extending his term. He would rather step down after the federal system of government is put in motion.

So Mr. Duterte must now put on the brakes on his allies who are tinkering with the fundamental law of the land.

To my mind, this is what the high approval ratings mean. He continues to enjoy support so he could do what is good for the greatest number.

The President should stop both Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez from pushing the country over the edge.

Santa Banana, history may just repeat itself. In the past, people had enough of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos so they ousted him during the 1986 People Power Revolution.

* * *

The Duterte administration is trying to push for the swift passage of the second phase of the law on tax reform. This is to ensure the government’s fiscal position remains stable and its deficit target attainable.

I see the need for government to conduct a massive information and education campaign so the people would know what the law is for.

According to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, the projected P89.9 billion corresponds to only about two thirds of the P134 billion original revenue target under the 2018 budget.

Dominguez explained that the lower-than-expected revenue gain from the tax reform law could widen the country’s fiscal deficit this year to 3.3 percent of the gross domestic product—unless Congress approves an additional revenue-generating measure.

According to DoF estimates, Dominguez said, Package 1B is seen to increase government revenue by P38.9 billion, resulting in incremental revenues of P128.8 billion when combined with Package 1A.

Package 1A, signed into law, involved the reduction of personal income taxes, adjustments in the excise tax on fuel, automobiles and imported coal and expansion of the value-added tax base, among others.

Package B will comprise an estate tax amnesty program, adjustments in the Motor Vehicle Users charge and amendments to bank secrecy laws, which are expected to be tackled by Congress when it resumes its sessions.

That’s clear enough if government must achieve its ambitious Build Build Build infrastructure program and attract foreign investments.

But, as I said, in the wake of consumers still trying to meet the increase of prices, government must reach out to the people and enlighten them.

* * *

I see a light at the end of the tunnel for the MRT—even as the tunnel has been long.

The required investments of Metro Pacific could reach P20 billion, including the equity component. MPIC has already secured an original proponent status from the Department of Transportation for the expansion and rehabilitation of MRT 3. MPIC will buy out the government’s stake and also those of the private sector.

Santa Banana, given how desperate people are about the daily glitches of the MRT, they would be willing to pay higher fares just to get to their destination in one piece!

Topics: History may repeat itself

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