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Let’s help DTI monitor prices of basic goods

I was watching Karen Davila’s Head Start yesterday morning where she had as her guest Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez and let me say that that show was perfectly timed to have the DTI Secretary on her show especially when so many pundits were writing their thoughts about the negative effects of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law that takes effect at this time of the year. Actually these are the sum of all the fears of these pundits that needed to be addressed by a top official from the Duterte administration.

From the way he presented his case, DTI Sec. Mon Lopez was well prepared, showing Karen Davila a colored graph of a can of sardines, where the figures showed a 70 percent Cost of goods, 8 percent Selling, 5 percent Distribution, 8 percent Marketing, 3 percent Overhead and 6 percent Income before tax. All told, the 7 percent increase of 5 percent of the cost amounts to 0.35 percent, which should tell us that retailers could absorb those small increases. This is after the excise tax on fuel. Sec. Lopez also showed Karen other graphs, making her come up with a comment that the DTI Secretary came prepared to face the TV viewers.

While it is true that our DTI officials are closely monitoring food prices, what we consumers ought to do is help the DTI monitor these prices because I don’t think that the DTI has enough personnel to monitor each grocery or supermarket. When asked what was the penalty for profiteering, Sec. Lopez pointed out that it is a low of P20,000 to a million bucks depending on the magnitude of the violation.

Again let me point out that TRAIN is still very new so I’m sure we shall experience some birth pains in its implementation. Rather than condemn this scheme, I dare say that we ought to monitor it closely especially this coming April when the tax season comes, where many taxpayers would enjoy the new tax reform benefits promised in the TRAIN law.

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My article on federalism last Thursday elicited a response from a good friend Jerry Quibilan who wrote:

“Hi Bobit, Happy New Year! I read, with interest, your article entitled “Federalism would finally give us justice” in today’s issue of the Philippine STAR. In this connection, I figured that you would be very interested to read the two essays below of Frank Hilario, a proponent of federalism like you. You remember Frank. He designed and edited my book, “One Man Selling Change: The Emails of JAQ, The Emails of SAM,” a copy of which I have given you.

Let’s hope that the federal form of government promised by President Rodrigo Duterte would be achieved which is expected to finally give us justice, equality and inclusiveness, among many other benefits for our people. God bless! Jerry”

Thanks Jerry… I did read Frank Hilario’s essay entitled, “To give power to where it is due.” He refers to the 81 provinces in the entire Philippine archipelago and names all of these provinces. Then he asks the poignant question, “Can you imagine how you can control them all? Yes, you can! If you are Imperial Manila, you can control them all even remotely – simply control their budgets! That’s how Manila Imperialism imposes itself without imposing its presence. Once you control the funds, you can control everything. That is dictatorhip of Manila!”

As Frank points out, federalism is sharing power. Federalism is more than a separation of powers. What powers should each state exercise? In most federalized nations, the power of the purse is at the command of each federal state. The federal government only holds the Foreign Affairs, the Armed Forces and the Postal Services. The rest is given to each federal state, which is the right thing to do.

This is why I wrote that the biggest issue why we should federalize is on the issue of our serious lack of justice. During the Marcos Dictatorship, after the assassination of Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. our cry was Justice for Aquino and Justice for All (JAJA). The Marcos dictatorship fell and the Aquinos took over the power vacuum, removing the hated Marcos constitution and replacing it with the 1987 Constitution, which is nothing but a rehash of the 1935 Constitution which was a unitary form of government.

Thirty years after the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, the oligarchy has returned with a vengeance, the political dynasties continued their control of many parts of the country and worse, justice still eludes the ordinary Filipino. I have always maintained that speedy justice would be the best tool against corruption. If you are a corrupt government official and you know that if you are caught with a corruption case… and in one year the trial is over that you are jailed for your crime… believe me, the corrupt and the damned would think twice or thrice before they would touch gov’t funds.

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Email:vsbobita@mozcom.com or vsbobita@gmail.com.

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