March 02, 2016 at 12:01 am
Alejandro Del Rosario
The report of 600,000 car license plates being held up at the pier for non-payment of import duty taxes is a classic case of government incompetence. While motorists and car owners stew over the delay in the issuance of license plates they have already paid for, the Bureau of Customs, the Land Transportation Office and the Commission on Audit are still wrangling over on why and who should pay taxes on the seized shipment.
Will the shipment be released in four months, before the end of President Aquino’s term?
“I don’t think so,” LTO chief Roberto Cabrera curtly replied as he stood pat that the Dutch-Filipino consortium his office contracted to supply the license plates should pay the necessary import duties.
Customs Commissioner Bert Lina insists import taxes be paid by the Dutch-Filipino consortium or he would declare the shipment abandoned and put it up for auction. The shipment which arrived in batches at the Manila International Container Terminal port late last year piled up, adding to the cargo congestion at the pier. Lina wants the importer to pay P40 million in taxes and the additional demurrage and storage fees. This, even as truckers and customs brokers threatened a week-long holiday because of the cumbersome release of shipment by appointment.
The Commission on Audit, on the other hand, issued a notice of disallowance on the deal between the LTO and the Knieriem BV and Power Plates Concept Inc. The CoA found the deal irregular under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Act. The LTO sought three times to have CoA reconsider its decision but was denied.
The Dutch-Filipino consortium bagged the P3.8-billion deal with the LTO in 2013 to supply the car plates. The LTO is under the Department of Transportation and Communications headed by Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya (him again!) who’s also in charge of the messed-up public railway system.
PNoy’s closet candidates?
The tandem of Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero will remain independent despite the announcement of the Nationalist People’s Coalition that it was willing to adopt them as its official standard bearers.
The NPC has 2,000 incumbent officials nationwide; 4,469 are running for election.
With their decision to stay independent, Grace and Chiz could make political history if they win in the May 9, 2016 elections. It will be the first time an independent president and vice presidential candidate will be elected without the usual political machinery. But it cannot be said that both of them do not have the necessary funding. The word going around is that certain business tycoons who are dismayed by the Aquino administration’s failure to deliver are bankrolling the Poe-Escudero team.
Poe is leading in the SWS survey and would probably surge once the Supreme Court rules in favor of her citizenship eligibility. She has remained in the ballots being printed by the Commission on Elections. Whether the high court rules for or against her, the people can vote for Poe making the final tally of this close presidential race messy. Surely, there will be legal challenges if Poe wins.
But are Poe and Escudero really independent candidates? Speculations are rife they are Aquino’s closet candidates, a Plan B in case the ruling Liberal Party’s presidential and vice presidential team of Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo fail in their bids. Roxas is behind Vice President Jejomar Binay and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in the last Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia presidential surveys. The Palace, Poe and Escudero deny there is such a Plan B to make a “friendly” president succeed Aquino to insulate him from a slew of charges once he steps down from office on June 30.
Britain leaving EU?
Great Britain’s plan to leave the European Union is giving the EU anxiety. Already out of the Euronean common currency, Britain’s departure called “Brexit” could weaken the Union which is already experiencing economic difficulties and a wave of migrants from strife-torn Syria. Only Britain, Germany and France are still economically healthy.
The British plan to leave the European Union will be submitted to a referendum, the results of which could be 50-50 with many Brits adverse to the Union since its inception. Under the EU and the no visa-required Schengen Treaty, in which nationals of all member countries are free to enter and work in each other’s states. Britain and Germany with their booming economies draw most of these immigrants resulting in resentment by the locals who feel their jobs and social benefits are being taken by the newcomers.