Solidarity in the time of COVID-19 -- MS Supplement

A practical, doable solution

A practical, doable solution"This could be the best form of corporate social responsibility."



This column has a new schedule. Starting this week, it will appear three times a week—Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

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I just renewed my car registration. I have been doing this for the last four years—and still, I have no plate. Frankly, I feel swindled by my own government.

Santa Banana, what a country! Government can’t even deliver a very basic thing like a car plate. Many car owners are forced to display their conduction stickers or resort to buy white car plates resembling the official one.

And yet I am required to pay my taxes on time.

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My attention was called to an article published last week by my good friend, Ernesto Banawis. His piece was on what can be done to reinvent the Filipino nation. He proposed that the 50 richest Filipinos can help the President solve poverty. Banawis said that Mr. Duterte should appeal to the richest Filipinos to set aside a fraction of their wealth to finance this revolutionary means to fight poverty.

These wealthy Filipinos are named by Forbes Magazine. They have no reason to refuse contributing to the country.

According to Banawis, this can be done through the creation of a foundation by the donors themselves. We all know what can happen to the money if government is allowed to handle the donation. In fact, the donation can be seen as an investment. I say it’s insurance for the future.

To me, this could be the best form of corporate social responsibility. It is both practical and doable. At the same time, the rich would not be feeling as though they were compelled to do it. It could be their way of paying it forward given their material blessings.

The wealthy must remember that 30 percent of Filipinos live below the poverty line. It’s a social volcano, my gulay!

As I said in my Tuesday column, the country needs more patriots.

I have long wanted to find ways and means to solve our country’s ills. President Duterte could use this, especially since he remains popular among the people.

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The retirement of Associate Justice Antonio Carpio reminds me of his many landmark decisions. He was a member of the High Court for 18 years.

One of these decisions was a ponencia ruling for the 900 employees of the Bureau of Customs who rendered overtime work for arriving and departing flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

These 900 Customs personnel rendered work beyond the eight-hour requirement of the law.

In 2007, I was approached by some of these employees who had done overtime work. They complained to me that while they were getting payments before, these payments stopped because Customs was being cheated by those claiming additional pay.

I told them to find themselves a good lawyer to represent them. This encouraged the Association of Customs Personnel to seek fairness and justice. First, they complained to the bureau itself, and then to the Department of Finance, which brought the case to Malacañang, which advised them to seek the help of the Solicitor General. They then brought their case to the Regional Trial Court. Eventually, the case was elevated to the Supreme Court.

Justice Carpio wrote the decision on the case in September 2013. In accordance with the Tariff and Customs Code, it should be the body of domestic and foreign airlines that benefited from the overtime work that should pay for the extra hours served. At that time, the total amount had ballooned to P2.1 billion.

But the Board of Airline Representatives never paid a single centavo. It instead questioned the computation.

BS Aquino, who was president at that time, never lifted a finger to help the embattled Customs personnel. I have written so many columns on this issue, but neither Customs nor the Department of Finance seemed to care.

I told the Customs collector in charge to ask to cite the BAR for contempt of court. The decision was final and executory. Surprisingly, when the issue of contempt reached the office of then-solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, now associate justice of the Supreme Court, he turned it down. Why?

I consider this unjust. Labor laws are clear that those who work beyond eight hours must be compensated for their additional load.

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It’s time to make motorcycles-for-hire a legitimate means of transport, given the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila. I agree with Senator Sonny Angara. Angkas, for instance, has become more popular for all the good it does to embattled commuters.

This is done in Vietnam and Malaysia. It will benefit those who want more options for their commute.

Angara has, in fact, filed a bill to amend the Code of Transportation to allow motorcycles to register as for-hire vehicles with the Land Transportation Office.

Without a law, these motorcycles remain a dangerous means of transport. There must be a law to enable these vehicles to be regulated.

* * *

I join the nation in mourning the passing of former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. He was a real statesman, freedom fighter, and patriot. My condolences to the family.

Topics: Forbes Magazine , Rodrigo Duterte , Antonio Carpio , Bureau of Customs , Aquilino Pimentel Jr.
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