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FIRING LINE: Hail to the new BIR chief!

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Alarmed that prisoners easily get access to all sorts of contraband at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) for a price, Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers filed House Bill No. 6126 (“Anti-Proliferation of Contraband in Prison Act of 2022”) last week.

The good chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs saw this measure fit to address various abuses within the correction facility, the corruption of jail officials, and even the commission of grave crimes like drug trafficking and contract killing through smuggled communication devices.

Kudos to Rep. Ace Barbers! This is a good bill, introducing modern devices to prevent smuggling and prisoner liberty to conduct criminal transactions. I hope we have a device that can scan corrupt corrections officers and officials. That will be the day.

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Still in the House last week, the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms approved HB No. 488, the proposed Act Strengthening the Political Party System – loosely referred to as the “Anti-Balimbing Bill.”

“Balimbing,” of course, refers to “political turncoats.” They make up a distinctly Filipino phenomenon, especially before the campaign season as political and financial interests align and immediately after elections when an exodus of politicians stream to the winners’ side.

The bill, authored by former president-turned-Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is good for the country since it has been plagued by decades of lack of ideological commitment among the leaders who are supposed to move our nation forward.

What amuses me, though, is of all people who could have come up with such a measure, it had to come from this person.

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Last Thursday, November 17, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) apologized to all motorists affected by traffic jams caused by a momentary network outage in their electronic toll collection (ETC) system in parts of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), Skyway, NAIAX (NAIA Expressway) and the STAR (Southern Tagalog Arterial Road) Tollway.

But it did not just come as a token apology. Instead, SMC Infrastructure announced that it was waiving the toll for around 84,000 motorists affected by the traffic jams.

This is a perfect example of one of the best practices of a company’s social responsibility. Di lang puro kita and nasa utak. Nagpaparaya din at humihingi ng dispensa sa publiko. Pogi points for San Miguel!

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Of the many top-tier positions in government that remain wanting of topnotch managers and executives, President Marcos chooses a change of guard at the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Upon his assumption to the presidency, Bongbong Marcos appointed Lilia Guillermo, a former BIR deputy commissioner and former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas assistant governor, as BIR’s top commissioner. So, why has he suddenly replaced her with her deputy, Romeo Lumagui Jr.?

Is it because Guillermo, as early as June, had vowed to collect the Marcos estate tax arrears once the “proper computation” has been completed? Or is it because Lumagui’s wife, lawyer Carmela Esquivas-Lumagui, is a trusted aide of First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos?

 I guess the answer is both!

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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