Sen. Chiz Escudero said that racism on the part of some arrogant, narrow-minded individuals only show that there are people whose mindsets belongs to a bygone era.
Escudero was referring to an opinion piece by Tsao titled “The War At Home” that was published in the March 27 issue of HK Magazine.
Tsao implied that the Philippines had no right to dispute China’s claim on the disputed Spratly Islands, since many Filipinos work in Hong Kong as domestic helpers.
The Spratlys are being claimed in whole or in part by China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam.
Escudero said it was not enough for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to just condemn Tsao’s piece.
“I am not asking the DFA file a diplomatic protest. But our government must address this issue squarely and defend the dignity of Filipinos. If we need to take legal action against Tsao, let us do so. Our government should be in the frontline on this; they can hire a lawyer in Hongkong if at all, and file a case for damages," he said.
Escudero said this move would serve two purposes, one, it will send the message that we as a nation will not take this sitting down, two, our government, even with its insensitivity to a lot of our people’s plights, can at least make our people who toil overseas feel that their government somehow listens and acts for them and defends them.
TAX RELIEF FOR VICTIMS OF PRE-NEED SCAM – CHIZ
Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday batted for tax breaks for victims of failed pre-need companies as the April 15 tax payment deadline draws near.
He said if the government can grant tax amnesty to delinquent taxpayers, then why not give tax deduction to pre-need victims.
“The government’s failure to check and prevent the collapse of these pre-need companies only makes it morally right to give their hapless planholders tax relief,” the opposition senator said.
Escudero said there is still time for the administration to work out the details before the income tax filing season ends on April 15.
He suggested the government can give either full or partial relief, pointing out that any revenue losses from it could be offset by plugging loopholes in the collection process.
There are about 14,000 affected planholders who have lost at least 330 million pesos in investments with the bankrupt Legacy Group alone. In the case of Pacific Plans, about 34,000 planholders have claims against it.
The SEC said about 100,000 pre-need beneficiaries, including those serviced by the College Assurance Plans, could have stopped schooling since the crisis in the pre-need industry began in 2004.
According to estimates by the Parents Enabling Parents (PEP) Coalition, the claims of over a million pre-need planholders could amount to billions of pesos.
CHIZ TO GOV’T: SEARCH AND DESTROY KIDNAPPERS NOW
Sen. Chiz Escudero reminded government yesterday that it has a sufficient budget to address the problem of kidnapping.“The President has at her disposal at least P500 million in intelligence funds as allocated for the Presidential Anti-organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) by this year’s national budget. It is time to use it wisely,” he said.In the first quarter of the year, the authorities acknowledged that there were 40 kidnap-for-ransom incidents, which was half of last year’s total.
Most of them occurred in Mindanao where the latest victims include three staff members of the International Committee of the Red Cross.“Any police officer worth his salt will tell you that the key to an effective anti-kidnapping drive is good intelligence work. In other words, take out the bad guys before they take out their victims,” the opposition senator said.
He also reiterated the importance of using new technology and the latest communications equipment in order to be one step ahead of criminal gangs.“Instead of constantly watching the political opposition, the government should set its sights on kidnappers who have scared off investors and affected the business climate,” he said.
CHIZ: GOV’T STIMULUS PLAN A MIRAGE
Opposition Senator Chiz Escudero yesterday described the government’s P330-billion stimulus plan as nothing more than a “mirage,” as the country’s budget deficit for the first two months of the year stood at P67 billion.
“The stimulus plan has not caused economic expansion except perhaps to shoot the deficit through the roof. What cannot be denied is that stimulus spending is done in spurts while deficit spending has surged,” Escudero said.
The senator issued the statement to dispute the government’s explanation that the deficit swelled to P67 billion because of “increased pump-priming expenditures” under the Economic Resiliency Plan (ERP).
He said that it was not true that the 60-day deficit ballooned due to accelerated spending, adding that the government exceeded its programmed expenditures for January and February by a mere P1.6 billion, or from a little over P226 billion to P228 billion.
Less the P1.6 billion, Escudero said the deficit is attributable to revenue shortfalls.
“So this leads to one indisputable conclusion: the much vaunted pump-priming is a mirage, a Powerpoint illusion. The government did not overspend, it undercollected,” he said.
Escudero said that granted that P226 billion has been released to agencies, only a fraction of this is for capital outlays.
“Of the funds earmarked for capital outlays, only a miniscule portion has been sank into the ground because disbursement should not be equated with actual spending as there is yawning time gap between the two,” he explained.
“But the best argument why the spin that the P67 billion was due to expenditure front-loading does not fly, lies on the ERP itself. Many economists including an Ateneo teacher’s pet himself, have said that only a sixth of the P330-billion package can be considered new spending,” Escudero said.
He said most of these new spending are off-budget items, like the hike in Philhealth benefits.
“If it were a dough; the ERP was lathered with so much yeast that the result is a bread made fluffy by air,” Escudero said.