AMONG the revelations of the recent New York Times (NYT) exposé on the tax records of United States President Donald Trump is that in 2017 (and 2016 as well) he paid the US federal government a measly $750 in income taxes.
That’s loose change compared to the $156,824 he paid the Philippines in taxes that year for his income from licensing fees for the Trump Tower at Century City. What does that tell us?
For me, it’s quite obvious that Trump feared, or respected, our Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) more than he did the US’ supposedly super-strict, beyond-corruption Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Contrary to what the Yellows have been saying, we have a tighter rule of law than the US.
Yet US and Western media cannot help twisting this revelation in order to put down President Rodrigo Duterte, revealing their deep bias against him and our country.
The NYT article described Trump’s licensing income as coming from “deals in countries with authoritarian-leaders or thorny geopolitics – for example $3 million from the Philippines, $2.3 million from India and $1 million form Turkey.”
This is patently false: the $3-million brand-licensing deal with the Trump Tower Manila was inked in 2012 during Benigno Aquino 3rd’s administration although the actual payment and taxes was made in 2017 during Duterte’s watch.
The NYT’s anti-Duterte spin becomes quite obvious in a succeeding sentence: “The Philippines’ strongman leader, Rodrigo Duterte, chose as a special trade envoy to Washington the businessman behind the Trump Tower in Manila.” What the heck?
What the NYT is implicitly telling its readers is that Trump was merely favoring Duterte in paying such taxes on the licensing deal, as he preferred strongman leaders. Duterte reciprocated when he appointed that businessman as a special trade envoy to the US.
What unconscionable crap. The businessman behind the Trump Tower in Manila is the luxury condominium magnate Jose Antonio of Century Properties, who, together with his wife, had been a loyal supporter of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. While Trump’s income from the tower’s use of the Trump name was posted in 2017, Antonio struck the deal back in 2011, with construction starting in 2012 and finished early 2016 – during Aquino 3rd’s administration.
Choosing the Trump branding to sell his high-end condominium tower was not even Antonio’s choice but his son Robbie’s, who has lived in New York and developed friendships with the rich and famous of Manhattan. Robbie’s penchant for high-class branding also got Century Properties to develop condominiums licensed to use the Paris Hilton name (Azure Paris Hilton) and the Armani-designed Century Spire.
I am not privy to how Antonio got to be appointed as a special envoy to the US, a purely titular position. But I suspect Duterte’s ally, former President Arroyo, made the suggestion for the country to take advantage of Antonio’s, or his son’s, access to the US president because of his past business links via the Trump Tower licensing. That is how diplomacy works.
But the NYT would have none of it. Its people had decided — helped by such Duterte bashers close to it like Columbia Journalism School Dean Sheila Coronel and former CNN employee Maria Ressa, as well as Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo — that Duterte is a strongman whose presidency, as Coronel had written, is “bathed in blood.”
The tax payments to the BIR in the NYT journalists’ biased minds are some kind of accommodation to Duterte by Trump, who prefers strongmen to liberal heads of state.
This episode only emphasizes how deep is the bias of the US and Western media toward Duterte. This is due to a combination of factors.
First is his verbal antagonism toward the US, with the likes of NYT that worshiped former president Barack Obama never forgetting Duterte’s telling him to “go to hell” in 2016. The US “Deep State” could not tolerate Duterte’s policy of taking the Philippines out of US puppetry, and moving the nation closer to China.
Second, the US can never really accept the reality that a leader of what it still thinks is a “developing country” can go against it. It therefore has concocted the explanation that Duterte is a ruthless dictator. In the US mind, all such dictators — from Hitler to Castro to Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez — can only be antagonistic to the US as they don’t share the same “liberal values” which America is the world champion of.
Third, the past Aquino 3rd regime and its Yellow mobs were so slavishly pro-American lackeys that the US cannot accept that Duterte camp that defeated it.
And fourth, there has been a large corps of Yellow journalists developed since 1986, with the same kind of thinking as the likes of NYT. The US, after all, has the most formidable machine to brainwash peoples of the world, especially their journalists. I know, as I was myself a recipient of such “immersion” fellowships in the US (and by its Asian proxy, Australia), first at the start of my career and in the middle, and it took a huge effort on my part to see through the American brainwashing.
To be quite frank, I doubt whether our country’s journalists and thinking class will ever see and overcome this American brainwashing in our generation. Why, even a veteran journalist, whose columns in a Yellow paper are well respected, I found out, lives in San Francisco and has been secretly a US citizen. What kind of views could one expect from him, no matter how he tries to be objective?
And, of course, wasn’t it revealed only in the past two years that the top honcho of the erstwhile most powerful broadcast network, ABS-CBN, and Rappler’s chief executive officer are US citizens and Filipino only for convenience?
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