• Vigilance on corruption and incompetence

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    ROLLY G. REYES

    Basher: An individual who is unfriendly and/or commits harmful acts to a group of people or an individual due to prejudice and/or ignorance. To the lady vice mayor, we and our children are not bashers. We are the victims.

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    No, it’s not true that Eat Bulaga will start a guessing game portion to be called “May Pasok O Wala?”

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    Technology rules the world.

    Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on Thursday became the world’s richest person ($90.5 billion), as a jump in the share price of the US tech giant enabled him to overtake Microsoft founder Bill Gates ($90B), according to Forbes magazine.

    Amazon is the largest Internet-based retailer in the world by total sales and market capitalization. Microsoft develops, manufactures, licenses, supports and sells computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers and services.

    Our keyboards and screens made this possible.

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    I wish that the 12 European Union lawmakers will also visit Kim Jong Un’s jails in North Korea and see if their prisoners are treated well. His anti-aircraft guns are waiting for you.

    I think that the issuance of license to own and possess firearms (LTOPF) should be decentralized. Applications can be processed at the provincial offices of the Philippine National Police or even at the city or municipal level. It will unclog Camp Crame’s increasing backlog of applications. Aside from PNP and NBI clearance, drug, urine or neuro tests can be done in authorized government hospitals or accredited private hospitals. Payments can be made to any Land Bank branch throughout the country. We should make it easy for police or military personnel or responsible civilian gun owners in the provinces who have to shell out money for transportation to go to Camp Crame. Firing range gun handling tests can also be performed at selected firing ranges. Just thinking.

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    House panel orders release of Ilocos 6 after 55 days of detention. Finally, Rep. Rudy Fariñas gave up his role as HOR’s jail warden. Back to being House majority floor leader.

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    President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to fire key government officials, even those deemed to be his close allies, shows that he may really have zero tolerance for corruption. Duterte announced in March 2017 that he fired at least 92 government employees for graft. These include employees from the Bureau of Customs (BuCor), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulation Board (LTFRB), Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), and the Land Transportation Office (LTO), among others.

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    Importation of rice, oil, cement and other agricultural products are prone to corruption as well.

    Members of the local rice cartel, by colluding with corrupt NFA personnel, are able to influence supply and pricing. Those corrupt elements are happy with the undocumented rebates that go with government-to-government rice purchases. The inefficiency of such purchases often leads to shortages that the local cartel exploits to create huge profit.

    In the case of cement importation, there is now an issue with one trade official who allegedly showed biased in favor of so-called manufacturers-importers versus legitimate or pure importers when he said the Importers Clearance Certificate (ICC) requirement was put in place as a measure against unscrupulous importers. Really?

    Under the guise of protecting local manufacturers of cement, legitimate importers are now totally displaced, resulting in a cartel where manufacturers appear to have the sole virtue of the right to import and thus controlling the pricing and supply of cement.

    Bureaucratic obstacles that hamper procurement, such as the issuance of TROs by the courts as mentioned by the President in his second State of the Nation Address, will delay the implementation of projects.

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    At first glance, additional stringent measures may be viewed as protectionism but in reality, it is a veiled source of corruption due to big time lobbyists. Much to the construction players’ dismay, the international suppliers of local manufacturers and importers are the same. Yes Virginia, it is not rocket science to determine monopoloy of profits camouflaged as protecting local products.

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    Again, these seemingly “holier than thou government” officials should be reminded that the President has directed all heads of agencies to eliminate red tape because it is always rooted in corruption. DTI top officials should take the cue and not add additional burdens to the import-export sector of the business community.

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    Another agency that is prone to corruption is the Bureau of Customs. Citing records, the bureau said the government loses P22.5 billion in revenues from oil smuggling and P16 billion from contraband cigarettes.

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    In other areas, several groups have expressed concern about the proposal of the Department of Finance to impose higher excise taxes on oil and gas products, saying this could put undue burden on ordinary Filipinos and worse, encourage more smuggling.

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    The citizenry and all media outlets should practice vigilance in seeing to it that those seemingly anti-corruption efforts may in reality be a new source of revenue that may end up in the proponents’ pockets.

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    Many Filipinos are excited about the impending arrival of electric cars. Meralco is excited as well for the charging stations that will be installed. “Bills pa more.”

    Good work, good deeds and good faith to all.

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