THE rush of innuendos in the local arena brings to the fore the realities that characterize the local political front. It is not just because the campaign period will start to heat up next year, but also because personal and selfish interests are inherent in all the players in this political “hullabaloo.” As to which personalities are involved in this “noise” is beside the point because each one is interested only in protecting their own political existence.
These political “disturbances,” which have been dragging on for months now, have bothered the nation because the allegations have gone down to the level of “street rumors” initiated by “friendly rumor mongers.” The protracted probe has practically robbed the nation of taxes in terms of expenses incurred in the proceedings. Instead of spending the time for much needed and more fruitful legislative functions that will directly benefit the people, the Senate subcommittee has expended too much of its legislative hour and people’s taxes on a less fruitful probe which, without doubt, serves other personal purposes.
Even the president himself has articulated his position on the ongoing probe; to pick up or pack up and end the piece-meal conduct of the probe. In the president’s words, he requested the senators to end the probe in favor of more important legislative work that would benefit the people instead of perceived political bullying to vilify political foes. They should present all of the evidence they have so that cases may be filed in court against VP Binay if necessary, otherwise end the probe and resume serving the people which they swore to do during their campaign.
This practice has been the tradition every election season and thereafter. While in other more advanced and politically mature countries politics is merely incidental to their life, here in our country it is a way of life. Here, tradition dictates that in politics there are no permanent friends and enemies, only permanent interests; where political clans, even families, relatives and friends run into conflict with one another in pursuit of political positions.
Unless this method of political witch-hunting is replaced by a more politically accepted and mature exercise rather than just obvious personal attacks, our local political arena will be inhabited by gladiators who know no integrity except power and strength.
Prior to the start of the second half of this year, news broke out that an increased tax exemption for Christmas bonuses was imminent this yearend. Everything was in place and every fixed-income earner was more than happy with this development, with everyone expecting a big take-home pay come Christmas. It started at the House of Representatives, legislating tax exemption of up to P70,000 of Christmas bonuses or 13th month pay compared to the P30,000 at present. The Senate version was proposing an even higher income exemption of P75,000.
But in a sudden turn of events as confirmed by Rep. Quimbo of Marikina during a UST symposium, this good news won’t be enjoyed this year. It would have been a welcome break for people who rely on a fixed income and for the first time could spend a lavish holiday if the law was enacted this year. It was already in the pipeline as early as the second quarter of the year, yet it dragged in the House and went stagnant for several months (I hope not because of politics) for some reasons beyond our control and perhaps due to political negotiations.
Nevertheless, with no major changes and political occurrences that will come our way, it will be a welcome development to the majority of our people who toil not only for their family but for the government as well. And hopefully, this benefit will also be extended to allowing the reduction of income tax on fixed-income earners who comprise the majority of our citizenry. Come to think of it, with the current set-up where the highest income bracket is taxed at 32 percent, it practically means that two to three months of your annual salary or income is contributed to the government by way of taxes, and you only get nine months real benefit out of your toil.
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