Our government is in dire need of cash, and no less than President Rodrigo Duterte is telling us that. Those who think otherwise and tell us that Congress had just approved a budget that runs to trillions of pesos might be thinking that that huge sum is already available in government’s bank vaults.
It is not.
Governments’ operations depend on how much projected income will it be able to collect from taxes, fees, incomes from government-controlled corporations to name a few. But the biggest sources are tax revenues collected by the Internal Revenue and Customs bureaus.
With the global lockdown, our production and domestic and export engines had come to a virtual standstill. The Department of Finance caved-in to the demand to extend the payment of income taxes from April 15 to May 15.
In the meantime, the government is bleeding. It had set-aside hundreds of billions of available funds and thank the government for prudent spending there are quite a sum to feed those out of job -the daily-wage earners.
But the finance spigot is close to running out of money. President Duterte asked his fund-raiser, Secretary Sonny Dominguez, to sell government assets, borrow and think of other means to raise money. The Asian Development Bank readily made available some $500-million in loan. Our triple B credit rating which the Duterte government had achieved suddenly became one of our best advantages. Add to that our GDP -to – debt ratio at 41% and that should give us a comfortable elbow room.
But all these decided advantages depend on how fast can we get out of the woods. We have bull-headed citizens and weak barangay leaders who cannot enforce discipline on their wayward constituents.
Some of us might have missed some interesting facets that emerged in the crisis situation where we are today.
If one goes by the whining and ranting of many recipients of government varied social amelioration program, it gives us a clue that many of them were in fact not poor at all.
Listen to Kadamay rallyists, barangay residents from Iloilo, those with homes along the riles and an alleged “mahirap” in Sta. Rosa. They practically air the same complaint. To them, the amount of cash and including the food packs that local government units distribute to tie them up while we are into enhanced community quarantine are simply not enough.
I caught up some video clips shown on TV and on Facebook. Consider this.
“Paano kami mabuhi sang ginapanghatag nga otso mil o dyes mil? Indi pa gani na mag-igo sa amon sa isa ka semana”. (How will we survive with 8 or 10 thousand? That is not even enough for a week consumption.) Then there is that woman in silk blue scarf complaining about the bag full of goodies and cash that she received which she claimed are not enough for her family’s week consumption.
Of course, there are very ungrateful people who received their rations.
From those who rile and speak vile against the government, however, they simply tell us that prior to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Covid-19 plague, they were, in fact, earning anywhere from ₱35,000 to ₱40,000 per month and are better off than bank employees or the night-shift call center agents.
Anyway, I’m just thinking loudly from the confines of my home in Davao City. I also asked myself whether the government will be able to sustain this welfare state which suddenly we have become.
There are of course several options that can be resorted to. Realign budgets, stop implementation of mega-projects and sell government assets. While the government is contemplating these maybe those who have the means to pay tax may start paying tomorrow. Maybe, just maybe, the economic team of Secretary Dominguez can draw up an incentive of extending a 20% discount based on last year’s ITR provided tax due will be paid before the end of April.
Otherwise instead of using those massive temporary health facilities for Covid-19 patients, convert these to detention cells, remove the beds, aircon and wifi facilities and lock up violators of ECQ and curfew for the next five years. It’s a cheaper and easier thing to do.
Congress should pass a law to make the crime unbailable. This is the panacea more effective than a vaccine.
A letter to Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte
I am giving way to a letter sent to me by a certain Mark Adie. Since we neither know each other from Adam nor are we connected in Facebook. He sent it to a common friend who in turn sent this to me. You know how that one works.
I had posted this on my wall and since then it had been shared by many. I am deeply touched by his message that I thought that if this piece written by someone out there could give a bit of compassion and relief to the heavily-laden leader, then, by all means, this letter should find all means to get it to the President’s table.
“I did not vote for this man. I do not agree with some of his policies, I do not enjoy his habit of cussing during his speeches, I am not a fan.
“But I looked beyond his shortcomings because he was duly elected as President by fellow Filipinos. So, he is my president. He is your president. He deserves my respect, our respect.
“His recent speech shows how courageous he is. How? By admitting that he did not know how to move on from where he was at! Only the bravest of men would admit his weaknesses. It takes guts. By admitting that he is worried, worried about our future, makukuha niyo pa bang maging negatibo? Nagagawa niyo pang batikusin?
“Yung paghingi ba ng tulong sa mga may kaya sa buhay ay tanda ng isang failure? Ng kahinaan? I don’t think so.
“Ang iniisip at inaalala niya – Paano na ba tayo. Tayo!
“Mr. President, you are strong and strong-willed, and you know that. You have a great big heart. We will get through this. Whatever it takes to make sure na mabubuhay ng mas mahaba ang mas nakararami. Fuck the rest who prefers to mud sling and steal the spotlight and spit on you. When they spit on the President, they spit on their countrymen and they don’t even know it.
“Sa ganitong klaseng crisis, we should help the government. Stand with the government.
“Stay healthy, Sir. Kailangan ka ng Pilipinas.
“Sincerely, Mark Adie.
“#mytwocents, #IStandWithThePresident, #BPOfrontliner”.
A few days after my Facebook post I got a comment from the letter sender. His full name is Mark Joseph Adecer.
Mark, this is the best that I can do. I am confined in my home in compliance with national and local leadership. Your letter delivers its mark against the solar plexus of those who endlessly whine. Better even, it inspires those who abide and stand by the President in this time of world immense crisis.
We shall overcome.