Ordinary Filipinos have yet to feel the change promised by the new administration

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AL S. VITANGCOL III

CHANGE. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so, we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.” Sixty years later, the same still holds true for us Filipinos.

The present administration rose to power on a campaign promise of change. There may have been changes. Yes, there are changes. However, the ordinary Filipinos have yet to feel these changes.

The turtle-paced, slow-moving traffic on the roads is a common sight. Motor vehicles with improvised and makeshift car plates have become the norm. Drivers with paper license cards are tired of waiting for their plastic license cards.

Renewal of permits, application for clearances, and the rest still takes forever. Procedures for payment of taxes, social security premiums, and the like have not changed – cumbersome, tedious, time consuming and duplicitous.


Oppressive revenue regulations

Kim S. J. Henares, during her stint as Commissioner of Internal Revenue, issued tons of Revenue Regulations (RR), with the aim of improving tax collections and monitoring. However, a lot of these RRs have not proved their worth but instead became an added burden to the small taxpayers, to the point of oppressing them and forcing a number to close their businesses.

A client of mine hurriedly consulted me last week on what she should do because she received a preliminary notice from the Revenue District Office (RDO) requiring her company to submit a quarterly Summary List of Sales (SLS) and/or Purchases (SLP).

Revenue Regulation 16-2005 requires VAT taxpayers to submit quarterly Summary List of Sales for those whose quarterly sales/receipts (net of VAT) exceeds P2.5 million, and a Summary List of Purchases for those whose quarterly total purchases (net of VAT) exceeds P1 million.

Henares recommended for implementation, which then Secretary of Finance Cesar V. Purisima approved, RR1-2012. This removed the P2.5 million and P1million thresholds and required all VAT taxpayers to submit the SLS and/or SLP quarterly reports in compact-disk recordable (CDR) medium – regardless of the amount of their sales or purchases. This means that even if your total sales is only P100, you have to file the SLS. Likewise, if your total purchases are a mere P10, you have to file the SLP. This is sheer madness.

Mind you, the SLS and SLP reports have to follow strict electronic formats. This is cumbersome and useless for small VAT taxpayers. RR 1-2012 did not improve the tax collection but simply overburdened these small taxpayers.

RR 1-2012 should be repealed and reverted to RR 16-2005, specifically that pertaining to Section 4.114-3, submission of quarterly SLS and SLP.

LTO insiders react

Some employees of the LTO reacted to last week’s column, “Unabating LTO incompetence in car plates, driver’s license mess,” and provided me with some information—apparently to prove that corruption still exists in that agency.

Based on LTO records, the P336.8 million contract for the procurement of LTO Drivers’ License Card project was executed betweenAllcards Plastic Phils., Inc. and the then DOTC on June 26, 2015.

On October 1, 2015, the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 49 stopped the project noting that the LTO was procuring printers and other paraphernalia for the printing of driver’s license cards without a budget for the equipment. Following is the pertinent portion of the court’s decision:

“It is clear and undisputed that said amount was for the so-called Maintenance Operating and other Expenses (MOOE).”

“Even a rational reading and understanding of the said phrase and item, immediately suggests that it was not appropriated for the acquisition of capital equipment. There was a separate category in the General Appropriations Act, under the heading ‘Capital Outlay,’ for the purchase and acquisition of capital equipment.”

Thereafter, a temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued against the project. The TRO was lifted early January 2017.

In August 2016, under the present administration, and almost 14 months after the award of the contract, the LTO made a repeat order to Allcards. It seems that this repeat order violated the provisions of the revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Under Section 51 of the revised IRR, particularly Paragraphs (c) and (d) thereof, mandates that,

“c) Except in cases duly approved by the GPPB, the repeat orders shall be availed of only within six (6) months from the date of the Notice to Proceed arising from the original contract: Provided, that there has been a partial delivery, inspection and acceptance of the goods within the same 6-month period; and

“d) Repeat orders shall not exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of the quantity of each item in the original contract.”
The LTO transgressed the revised IRR on two counts. First, the repeat order was not done “within six (6) months from the date of the Notice to Proceed arising from the original contract” and there was no “partial delivery, inspection and acceptance of the goods within the same 6-month period.”

The story does not end there. There’s more.

In November 2016, the LTO resorted to direct contracting with Allcards, without the benefit of public bidding, for the supply of three million plastic cards at a whopping P187 million. According to news reports, the LTO Executive Director, an appointee of President Rodrigo Duterte, defended the award of the new contract with Allcards. Based on media accounts, he claimed that Allcards is the exclusive distributor of the cards compatible with the current printers of LTO.

My insight tells me that this is again a brazen violation of the applicable procurement laws. Section 50 of the revised IRR laid down these provisions for direct contracting:

“Direct contracting may be resorted to by concerned Procuring Entities under any of the following conditions:

“a) Procurement of goods of proprietary nature which can be obtained only from the proprietary source, i.e. when patents, trade secrets, and copyrights prohibit others from manufacturing the same item;

“b) When the procurement of critical components from a specific supplier is a condition precedent to hold a contractor to guarantee its project performance, in accordance with the provisions of its contract; or

“c) Those sold by an exclusive dealer or manufacturer which does not have sub-dealers selling at lower prices and for which no suitable substitute can be obtained at more advantageous terms to the GoP.”

Obviously, plastic cards are not proprietary and can be supplied by other card manufacturers, at a much lower cost. The P187 million for three million pieces of cards translates to a P62.30 unit cost per card. There are providers out there that can supply the card at a mere P30.

The fruit is now ripe for the picking.

Judicial corruption persists

Ex-lawyer Dionisio Cañete made news last week when the Supreme Court en banc issued a Resolution, dated January 31, 2017, resolving to grant his Petition for Voluntary Delisting in the Roll of Attorneys.

In one of the newspaper articles on the matter, Cañete said that “cruel and brutal injustices” were heaped on him and he felt that “being a lawyer does not anymore deserve respect and courtesy” from his own brothers in the legal profession. Much more, he added, there is no more logical and cogent reason for him to remain a lawyer.

Cañete’s decision to petition the Supreme Court to delist him is his form of protesting the alleged corruption in the profession, particularly in the prosecution service and the judiciary.

Let’s look at a live case and decide for yourself whether or not corruption exists in the judiciary.

In a civil case lodged before the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court Branch 208, the original prayer of the plaintiffs is for the annulment/cancellation of deed of sale. An intervention was then filed by a third party, alleging that the plaintiffs had previously sold to her the property, which was the subject of the civil case.

In the end, the presiding judge ordered the annulment of the deed of sale, cancelled the owner’s duplicate copy of the Torens Certificate of Title (TCT), and ordered the Registry of Deeds of Mandaluyong City to issue a new TCT with the name of the intervenor as the new owner.

In a long line of cases, the Supreme Court had ruled that, “jurisdiction over the subject matter is, after all, determined by the nature of the action as alleged or pleaded in the complaint.” Thus, the above-illustrated case is only for the cancellation of the deed of sale. Nowhere was it pleaded to void the original TCT and replace it with the third party’s name as owner. Why did the judge order the issuance of a new TCT with the name of a new owner in it? Well, your guess is as good as mine.

Further, it is settled jurisprudence that a Torrens certificate of title cannot be the subject of collateral attack. Such attack must be direct and not by a collateral proceeding. It is a well-established doctrine that the title represented by the certificate cannot be changed, altered, modified, enlarged, or diminished in a collateral proceeding. (I intentionally omitted the case citations for readability.)

Considering that the civil case lodged before RTC-208, wherein the sole issue to be decided was the validity of the deed of sale, rather than ownership, a collateral attack by the intervenor on defendant’s title was prohibited.

The judge’s decision is verily off-tangent to what was asked of the court.

Again, my insight tells me that a “black hole of justice” is present in this case.

So, there you are. These are just three examples of things that have not changed, which should be changed for the betterment of the people.

In the end, what affects the daily lives of the ordinary Filipinos is what matters.

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