POSTSCRIPT / October 31, 1999 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Dingel rejects 1,000-km test run for his hydrocar

UPDATE on the water-powered car: The 1,000-km supervised test run that we had proposed for the hydrocar invented by Daniel D. Dingel has been rejected by him. Dingel does not want it, according to his spokesman.

Our idea was to check through a practical road test if it is true that the car uses no other fuel than plain water. We figured that even if it had a hidden fuel tank, as some unbelievers suspect, it would run out of gasoline in 1,000 kms.

Why is Dingel afraid to submit his car to the test run? we asked.

“It’s not that DD does not want to go through this test run but the big question is still looming in our heads that until now we are actually at a loss as to what comes after when we have proven that it really works,” the spokesman said. “There is still no serious private or government support or proposal or actions anyone would take if it be proven worthy.”

The rest of the statement on why Dingel rejected the proposed 1,000-km test run is printed in the tailend of this column.

* * *

OUR passing comment on the delay in the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s refund of excess or erroneous income taxes has stirred complaints from a number of taxpayers whose refunds never came. Samples:

Reader M. Velasco using a Philcom address says: “In 1995, I followed up my refund for year 1993 (that’s right 1993!) and was almost issued a check in 1997. BIR National Office thought of asking BIR Makati to revalidate and, what do you know, all my documents have been missing since 1997.

“While the BIR cannot find the documents, I do not get my check. I am still following it up formally just so I would not lose through prescription. Now, how do I ask BIR to look for those documents which are in their custody and possession?”

Lito Diwa with a Citicorp address shares this information:

“Our BIR should see how the Australian Taxation Office works. In Australia, individual taxpayers have an option to file their income tax through an authorized tax agent, for example CPAs, for a minimal fee which is also tax deductible. Tax agents use on-line tax return forms and send these to the ATO electronically.

“Salaried employees can get their tax refund within 24 hours. Individuals with business income/expense will normally get the refunds 2-3 days after submitting the electronic forms.”

DANTE Deang of Pampanga (we dropped his exact address as he preferred not to be identified):

“I agree that BIR should be made to pay interest, and even penalties, for delaying our refunds. I am a contractual employee and my refund can help ease the difficult times my family is going through. Kahit mamantikaan man lang ang labi, as they say.

“I suggest that you use your entire column for the purpose. It can be memo- or billing-type format addressed to Rualo, in large-sized fonts big enough for him to see all the way to the rest room. And if possible, all newspapers should carry it.”

Postscript reiterates the suggestion for Congress to pass a law setting a deadline for the refund of excess or erroneous income taxes withheld, imposing criminal sanctions on BIR officials’ failing to beat the deadline, and requiring the bureau to pay interest on taxes that are not refunded after the deadline.

* * *

AFTER taking a trial run of the upcoming light train (MRT) on EDSA, President Estrada ordered the installation of escalators in the elevated stations. Good move. As now designed, the stations are accessible only to those who are athletic enough to climb a long, steep flight of stairs.

Why did it take a presidential instruction for the project developers to install escalators? The need for such equipment has been very obvious, even to laymen, that the developers themselves could not have missed it. But they did.

That’s above ground. Had the President taken a bus ride passing under the MRT stations being built at EDSA intersections, he would have noticed if he were observant that the air pollution in those cramped areas is intolerable.

That part of EDSA under the stations is like the parking basement of most buildings that are choked with lethal fumes from motor vehicles. There should be provisions for ventilation.

Do the developers need another presidential instruction to do something about the heavy buildup of air pollution (not to mention the darkness) under their stations?

* * *

METRO Manila commuters are slowly dying from the massive pollution in the streets and everywhere. The scary thing is that nobody’s doing anything about it!

If we’re not dead yet, we are already coughing, sneezing, developing allergies, asthma and other respiratory diseases, or painful tears well in our eyes without any apparent reason except the stinging pollution.

The President and his Cabinet members may not be aware of this serious problem, because they zip around in closed luxury vehicles, some of them snatched from importers who simply have not completed their release documentation and payment at Customs.

* * *

ANOTHER commuter problem is brought to public attention by R. C. Felix with a Netasia address:

“In the South Superhighway, cars passing from Nichols to Merville subdivision, a very short stretch, are forced to pay P10.50 toll fee without an alternative road. The service road could very well be opened since there is no traffic in the afternoons and instead, the traffic enforcers have placed a NO ENTRY sign. Only at 5 or 6 p.m. are cars, etc. permitted to pass.

“Not everyone can pay P10.50 for toll and it becomes more so expensive when some cars have to pass by that ONLY road twice a day. Is it possible to let us use the service road?”

* * *

PRESIDENT Estrada now says that his administration, which has been negotiating quietly with the Marcoses, will not enter into a settlement with the family of the late dictator on their hidden wealth and the cases pending against them.

That’s his position as of press time. The problem with this latest version of the President’s stand on the Marcos cases is that it is, well, just the latest version. Mr. Estrada keeps changing his position on various issues. One never knows what he would say next when another mood hits him.

His credibility is that bad.

* * *

REY S. Guevara of RSG Development Corp. suggests in connection with our proposed 1,000-km test run for Dingel’s water-powered car:

“In lieu of the 1,000 km. test run, I suggest the car be tested in a closed-door garage. Rev-up the engine at 3,000 rpm for 24 hours or more. A hose for adding water and another hose connected to the exhaust pipe are all you need to ensure no one tampers with the car inside the closed-door garage.”

Postscript: “We agree that a stationary test in a lab/garage is technically better than a test run on the highway which could even turn into a circus if mishandled. Conditions in the lab could be monitored and controlled better than on the run.

“But people may not appreciate much something that happened within closed doors. The usisero in us will want to watch it happen. Whatever the Department of Science and Technology finds out in its test (such as carbon compounds in the exhaust), if the Dingel car runs 1,000 kms on nothing but water, that road test could be more convincing to the public than the DOST or a host of angels swearing that Dingel is a fraud.”

* * *

CONTINUING on Dingel’s negative reaction to the test run idea, his spokesman further said:

“I have sat down with government people and private sector and the learned, educated and professionals. I was just listening on to their brain storming and it’s like everyone is swimming in the dark. I did not hear any clear cut action that can be taken after it has been proven because I don’t think anyone in the country right now would know how to handle an invention with this great magnitude.

“If there is no clearcut action that will be or can be taken after the reactor (that’s how Dingel calls his gadget—fdp) has proven its worth, this carelessly planned dare of yours will put everyone concerned at risk especially Mr. Dingel and his invention.

“When you first came out with the article about the test run…until today…the timing is not yet right. We still have to tie a lot of loose ends to protect our lives and Dingel’s invention.

“If you are a fair journalist, print this, all of it.”

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 31, 1999)

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