WHO says two heads are better than one? May be so when the twin heads function as one for the same body, but not for the signature campaign of President Duterte against illegal drugs.
Witness the initial hesitation, if not confusion, after the President designated Vice President Leni Robredo co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs without clarifying the division (or multiplication, addition or subtraction) of labor in the group.
In the first ICAD meeting Friday, for instance, reports had it that Robredo and her co-chair Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director-General Aaron Aquino disagreed on what to do with the bloody Oplan Tokhang, which she wants to discard but which he wants to keep.
Just the day before Robredo was inserted in the ICAD order of battle, Aquino who was on top of the anti-narcotics campaign was quoted in media as doubting her capability.
Now the two officials have to work together! Aquino could get indigestion eating his words while Robredo could become uncomfortable sitting beside him presiding over what looks like a top-level command conference.
Root of the confusion was the failure of Malacañang to define the working arrangement in the two-headed ICAD before the President offered the co-chairmanship to Robredo.
Duterte saw no need for details, the speculation goes, since he and his advisers thought she was not man enough to accept the challenge. But Robredo proved to be woman enough, catching many talking heads in the Palace, and in the Senate, groping for their script.
Even Duterte himself must have been surprised by Robredo’s bravely stepping up to accept the challenge — while serving notice that she would stick to her principled stand on the value of human lives and her adherence to the rule of law.
To begin with, it was a bad idea to install two ICAD heads without a clear delineation of shared powers, duties and resources. Even the simple matter of who should preside over an ICAD meeting could be an embarrassing situation.
While Aquino was afield ahead, he is lower in rank than the Vice President. Should he now defer or adjust to Robredo, a newcomer bringing in contrary opinion to the assembly?
The ICAD’s activities in the coming weeks could slacken while the bosses untangle operational crosslines and salve bruised egos – with the Duterte administration, as Robredo has pointed out, left with only a little more than two years to go.
From the bleachers where we watch, it seems that the ICAD is more of a policy-setting body, not the operations arm of the anti-drug campaign. But how can it lay down well-studied policies if the two chairs themselves do not agree on basic points?
If Robredo were to be confined to policy-setting, will she be left out in plotting strategy and overseeing operations which she wants to do? Only the President can resolve these basic questions.
Aquino had been quoted in media, we hope inaccurately, as daring Robredo to join operations or anti-drug raids for her to see how it is on the bloody ground. We think that was an indelicate statement.
Was he merely echoing the President’s thoughts? Duterte had said that with Robredo having moved in, he hoped she would see the ugly realities of the drug menace and how difficult it is fighting it.
With time running out, and with more lives being lost in the savage operations, Duterte may want to cut the impasse. He should say quickly who is the one head of the ICAD and what his/her powers and duties are.
It would do well for the President to seek new voices, instead of listening to his own ideas in his echo chamber, and find ways to put Robredo to good use in advancing national interests and looking after those in the fringes of society.
This Sunday, let us pray for the Vice President’s steadfastness and the President’s good health — as well as their common good faith — so they would be able to see their way through these trying times.
• Changes you should know about TRAIN
SOME taxation changes under TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act) that you may not be aware of:
1. Deadline for filing of annual Income Tax Return (ITR). Before: April 15. Now: May 15.
2. Personal and additional exemptions removed. Before: Personal exemption of P50,000 and additional exemption of P25,000 per qualified dependent. Now: None.
3. Tax on lotto winnings and PCSO prizes. Before: Lotto winnings and all PCSO prizes were tax-exempt. Now: All PCSO and lotto prizes are taxed 20 percent if the prize amount or winnings is above P10,000.
4. Tax on stock transactions. Sale of stocks not traded in the Philippine Stock Exchange. Before: Tax rate was 5-10 percent. Now: Tax rate is 15 percent.
Sale of stocks traded in the PSE. Before: Tax Rate was 0.5 percent of the gross trade amount. Now: Tax rate is 0.6 percent of the gross trade amount.
5. Documentary Stamps (Doc Stamps) Tax. Before: DST was from ₱0.75 to ₱1.50. Now: DST is doubled at ₱1.50 to ₱3.00.
6. Donor’s Tax. Before: Donor’s tax was 2 to 15 percent if the donor and donee are related, and 30 percent if the donation is to a stranger. Now: The donor’s tax is a flat rate of 6 percent regardless of the relationship of donor and donee.
Donations or gifts below P250,000 are tax-exempt. Donations with value of at least P250,000 are taxed using the new rate of 6 percent on the amount in excess of P250,000.
7. Estate Tax. Before: Under current tax laws, only family homes worth P1 million are tax-exempt. Now: The estate tax is a flat 6 percent rate on the amount in excess of P5 million. Estates with a net value of P5 million and below will be tax-exempt. Family homes that are valued at no more than P10 million will also be exempted.
8. Tax Exemption on 13th Month Pay and Other Benefits. Before: ₱82,000. Now: ₱90,000.
(TRAIN items were shared by Brod Ernie Salas of Pinoy ’55.)