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FIRING LINE: Tax pass in Villar City

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

It appears that the Villar family’s motto is, “Why pay taxes when you can own the city?” Five of their companies have topped the list of delinquent taxpayers in Las Piñas, owing the city over P200 million. And to top it off, they’re now asking for tax amnesties amounting to at least P71.6 million. How convenient!

Despite his unsuccessful bid for the presidency, property tycoon and former senator Manny Villar has bounced back by expanding his real estate development business. As a result, he has maintained the top spot on the Philippines’ richest list, with an estimated net worth of $9.2 billion. That’s 513 billion in pesos!

If you consult with your smartphone calculator, that means Mr. Villar can pay his companies’ tax debt to the city 2,565 times over!

It’s unacceptable that he’s been neglecting his responsibility to pay taxes to the very city to which his companies belong. Such a misdeed might displease even his wife, Sen. Cynthia Villar, Las Pinas City’s favorite hometown gal. Surely, he wants to refrain from testing her patience and temper in this hot, hot weather.

Kadiwa: A trick, not magic

At the snap of a finger, President Junior brings back the Kadiwa stores — a brainchild of his father — as what he seems to think is the magical solution to solve the myriad of problems plaguing the agriculture sector under his watch as agriculture secretary.

Hands down, the Kadiwa program does provide cut-price farm produce that undeniably helps manage food inflation, benefits Filipino consumers, and provides more income opportunities for farmers and micro, small and medium enterprises.

What could go wrong, right? Well, as it turns out, a lot. A Monetary Board member has raised concerns about expanding Kadiwa outlets nationwide, noting that while it might be politically easy, it is unsustainable.

The government buys food products at high prices but sells them at discounted prices, which costs the government money, and subsidies are not a viable long-term solution. So in the short term, Kadiwa will provide a ready market for farmers and fishers, but only briefly. It’s just an awesome trick whose magic fades.

I can’t tell if Sen. Nancy Binay was being nice or sarcastic in wishing that President Junior should show some fangs and get angry, noting that his solutions are either unsustainable, short-lived, or both.

She says, perhaps, BBM needs to channel his inner ferocity and develop better long-term solutions that don’t rely on band-aid fixes that merely paper over the cracks. 

The Chief Executive’s elder sister, Sen. Imee Marcos, had long sung the same tune, publicly appealing to him to throw fireballs at his incompetent company in the agriculture sector. To me, her call to appoint a permanent Department of Agriculture secretary was a kind way of dissing her brother for his incompetence.

So, if there’s anybody Marcos should be angry with, it’s himself.


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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at https://www.thephilbiznews.com

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