POSTSCRIPT / March 9, 2017 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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‘Be patient -- things are coming together’

WE ARE sharing a text from God!, forwarded by a friend, saying: “Be patient. Everything is coming together.”
The message appeared on our Viber last Sunday just in the nick of time. It caught us as we were about to give up pleading with the Duterte administration that we, the State and all, should commit ourselves to respect Human Life.
For eight months now, our senses have been almost deadened by the din of Palace propaganda and media trolls saying that gunning down a number of innocent Filipinos – as collateral damage – was all right if in the bloody process we also hit some drug traffickers who “deserve to die.”
Our Christian culture seems to have been turned upside-down as police raiders and their masked associates on motorbikes go on a rampage, with the blessings of their Chief, summarily executing suspected drug users and rival drug dealers.
These dogs of war were momentarily called back to their kennels weeks ago, but have been unleashed anew wearing a different collar — but, we fear, with the same thirst for blood.
We want to be proved wrong in our expectation that the beasts will again hunt down more drug SUSPECTS, cheered on by the mob hypnotized by populist rhetoric on crime and the promised emancipation from the ruling elite lapping up the fat of the land.
As we grope in the gathering darkness, God admonishes us: “Be patient.” Let us all be.
Objection isn’t against drug drive per se
A FALSEHOOD being spread in media is that those protesting the spate of ExtraJudicial Killings (EJKs) are opposed to the Philippine National Police campaign against the trafficking and use of illegal drugs.
Most reasonable men are actually ready to support a campaign against the illegal use of drugs – but they cringe at the brutal manner the campaign is being carried out, especially its violating human rights.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s garnering 16-million-plus votes in the national elections cannot be interpreted as a mandate for him to cast aside due process and toy with human lives. The electorate did not give him blanket permission to carry out summary executions under the pretext of fighting crime.
Another misleading line being reeled out by those who obviously have no training in the use of firearms is that (1) when one shoots at a person it is always to take him down, and (2) the idea of “shooting to disable” at close range is ludicrous. That is simply not true.
It was reckless for the PNP leadership, in the first place, to have assigned trigger-happy policemen to Oplan Tokhang. The campaign needed operatives trained for, among other specialties, close-quarters combat and who have precision skills to shoot to maim. Killing a SUSPECT on the spot must be the last option to a police officer.
That human life has become so cheap under the current regime is not an excuse for sloppy Tokhang raids and summary executions.
MM property tax rates soaring
COMES now disturbing news from Eddie Yap, chair of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) national affairs committee. He tells us:
Look what the Metro Manila commercial and business districts property bubble is doing to zonal values in the metropolis. Even middle class Quezon City residential properties, classified RR, are not spared and show over 100-percent rate of increase.
Samples: Kalayaan Ave., Central – 125%; Maginhawa, Sikatuna-Central – 186%; Maimpok, Sikatuna-Central – 167%; K-E Streets, Kamuning — 136%.
It is much worse in upscale villages all over — QC, San Juan, Alabang, Makati, etc., where zonal value upgrade ranges from 200% to 500% (as in BelAir).
At current zonal valuations, one cannot afford to die even with the estate tax rate cut to 6 percent, much more so in the future as the Bureau of Internal Revenue keeps upgrading values.
What the government is giving through tax rate cuts with the right hand will be taken back by the left through ZV upward adjustments.
What real property owners can do:
1. Support measures to disperse economic development to the provinces to relieve pressure on property values in Metro Manila and other highly urbanized areas.
2. Asap call your friends in government — Cabinet secretaries and legislators in both Houses, and opinion makers — to support our position to exclude the family home from the gross estate.
3. Ask your village or condo associations to hold town hall meeting to present their moves, if any, and mobilize support for exclusion of the family home. Sad to say, while ZV upgrades were done many months ago, these organizations have not done so.
4. Help develop our data bank by checking ZV of your own properties and report to us: location of property (street and district), if classified RR or CR, latest value, date of revision, previous value and percentage change. You may do so or at
The House and Senate bills are now in the homestretch of the legislative process but, the battle is not over. The 6-percent flat tax rate, per our advocacy, appears a done deal, but the fate of the family home hangs.
Some House and Senate bills and the Department of Finance adopted the traditional approach — prescribe exempt threshold amount (P3 million), while we want total exclusion from the gross estate.
Homeowners in other countries had raised an outcry on the ill effects of unabated property values inflation. In response, Hong Kong and Canada, for instance, had slapped especial tax (15 percent) on certain property transactions to dampen the bubble beast.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 9, 2017)

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