Fake candidates, fake authenticity

Filipinos will not really be voting for one balikbayan named Mrs. Llamanzares, who spent most of her working life in the United States as product manager of CSS Scientific in Virginia and as procurement liaison officer for the US Geological Survey, and got married to a fellow OFW, one Teodoro employed there at a defense contractor company and who is now with San Miguel Corp.’s telecoms unit. If Mrs. Llamanzares wins, she’ll be the first ever and probably the last movie and TV censor to become Senator of the Republic.

Continue ReadingFake candidates, fake authenticity

Is Aquino now the NPA’s ‘biggest recruiter’?

The country was given a rude awakening to the NPA’s strength when it ambushed the convoy of Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona, the former vice president’s wife, and a senator’s mother, wounding her and killing two of her escorts. The NPA’s statement was one of arrogant confidence, an indication that they control the area after the sun sets: “The mayor breached their provisos on the bringing of armed security escorts while on the campaign trail.”

Continue ReadingIs Aquino now the NPA’s ‘biggest recruiter’?

UP: ‘Mga Iskolar na Mayayaman’

 

The Manila Times, April 29, 3013

 

“Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of the conditions of men..” Horace Mann, American educator, 1848

RATHER than “Iskolar ng Bayan” (Scholars of the People) with its connotation that they’re from the masses, students of the University of the Philippines are mostly “Iskolar na Mayayaman” (rich scholars).

Based on official UP data, its typical student is from the upper class, whose tuition taxpayers heavily subsidize: 72 percent are among the A and B brackets, or those whose families have income of at least P500,000. Only 6.2 percent are from the lowest E bracket, who are not charged tuition.

This conclusion is extracted from the UP’s report on beneficiaries of its Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program. The number of those in the AB could be a bit inflated, based on the argument that the UP’s requirements to prove one’s eligibility to the STFAP program is so rigorous that many of those not from the upper classes do not bother to go through the process. I don’t believe this though: Really poor parents would do all they can to save a few thousands in tuition they deserve.

The class structure for a university the state subsidizes is scandalous. The UP’s full tuition for a year is P54,000, while its actual cost has been estimated to be nearly triple that, at P150,000. Why would the government—us taxpayers—subsidize a rich college kid’s tuition by nearly P100,000?

The data shows something deeply wrong in the UP, as a heavily subsidized national university. UP Manila student Kristel Tejada took her life when she fell into deep depression that she had to stay out of school as her application to be moved to the E2 bracket (full tuition subsidy and a stipend) was not acted upon.

And how many UP Manila students were in the E2 bracket? One hundred ninety-eight: 3.3 percent of the UP Manila’s 5,938. If Kristel was taken in into the E2 bracket, that poorest strata would account for just 3.4 percent of its student population. Was that such a difficult decision from UP Manila’s administrators?

The UP system’s budget is about P10 billion. How many poor students are there in UP who do not have to pay tuition fee? Just 2,544 or 6 percent of its 41,356 students.

In the US, college tuition accounts for an average of 17 percent of a family’s income. In the UP tuition is just 5.4 percent of those in the A bracket, or those with at an annual income of P1 million. The P54,000 the 72 percent of rich UP students pay for tuition is dwarfed by their families’ annual budget for such leisure as for eating out, or a summer vacation.

Even in such things as the state-funded national university, the elite manages to use it to perpetrate itself. (more…)

Continue ReadingUP: ‘Mga Iskolar na Mayayaman’

Are terrorists just too religious?

Exodus’ biblical terrorist? Artist’s depiction of the Angel of Death killing all Egyptian first- borns to terrify the Pharaoh to release the Israelites.

The Manila Times, April 28, 2013

Imagine there’s no countries/It isn’t hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too/ /Imagine all the people / Living life in peace — “Imagine” by John Lennon

THERE is something deeply disturbing about terrorism, and it is not just the horrific killing of innocents, as in the death of an 8-year old boy and two other bystanders in the Boston bombing.

It is its nature that while it is a most gruesome deed, it is done not to satisfy the terrorist’s basest, selfish impulses—as ordinary crimes are— but for something he believes, or thinks he believes, is a noble cause, something that is bigger than his small self.

Bin Laden is most probably a megalomaniac mass murderer, but after all has been said, there is still that lingering question why a scion of a Saudi Arabian clan would devote his life and probably his billions of dollars to what he believed was a holy war against the US infidel that he even reveled in the killing of 5,000 human beings in the World Trade Center carnage.

The suspected Boston bombers—especially the 19 year-old Dzhokhar Tarnaev— could have lived a comfortable life in the US. They instead believed that they had to risk their lives to kill people for what they thought is some higher good. Timothy McVeigh killed 168 of his fellow Americans in his bombing of an Oklahoma building in his belief that this would spark a revolt against what he believed was a tyrannical US state. Terrorism seems to arise from some deep human impulse, albeit in a perverted version: Man’s need to transcend himself, to become part of bigger whole. Yes, quite ironically, it’s the same impulse responsible for much of humanity’s achievements and its religions.

You would be surprised that a defining mythic episode of Judaism and Christianity would fall under most definitions of terrorism.

In the Exodus, because plagues and infestation weren’t enough, it was the killing by the Angel of Death of all Egyptians’ first-born that convinced the Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery. If that were true, it was terrorism on a genocidal scale. With an estimated Egyptian population of 3.5 million at that time, that would have meant the killing of about a million innocent firstborns, from those in the cradle to the elderly nearing the grave—in order to terrify the Pharaoh.

The Old Testament indeed relates many episodes of terrorism, an indication that such atrocities were not rare in ancient times. When some Israelites began to worship other gods, Numbers 25: 3-4 narrates that Yahweh ordered Moses, to terrify them: “Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun.”

Could all these Biblical accounts of an angry God killing innocents for His higher purpose been etched in humanity’s collective consciousness that the notion that to murder for such lofty aims is all right? Indeed, this justification was obviously that of the Spanish Inquisition, which ordered thousands of “heretics” burned to the stake. Even (St.) Thomas More, a lawyer, social philosopher, and Renaissance humanist had six “heretics”— actually the first Protestants—executed when he was Lord Chancellor.

It isn’t terrorism but a heinous crime when a gang kidnaps a tycoon’s and demand millions of pesos in ransom. It was terrorism though when the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped tourists in Dos Palmas and demanded ransom, and claim that they did it as part of their jihad to establish an Islamic state. It seems there has to be a broader, even higher purpose for a violent act to be classified as “terrorist.”

But the religious would point out that the most horrific episodes of terrorism—to broaden the use o—f the term —are those committed by atheists—Hitler most especially, if one believes he rejected his childhood Catholicism, as well as the communist megalomaniacs Stalin, Mao, and even Khmer Rouge Pol Pot.

But these mass murderers also didn’t kill for fun, or to amass fortunes. In the same manner that the faithful believe in some higher (Divine) purpose, these mass terrorists believed in something bigger than themselves (defined by what they thought by history and “rationality”), the achievement of which for them justified the killing of millions of innocents.

(more…)

Continue ReadingAre terrorists just too religious?

BIR’s ‘substituted filing’ excuse false

To explain why many known Filipino billionaires aren’t in the list of the country’s top 500 taxpayers, both the Bureau of Internal Revenue head Kim Henares and tycoons have invoked the agency’s “substituted filing” system as the reason.

They’re wrong, but they may have inadvertently pointed to what could be a major loophole in the country’s tax collection system.  (more…)

Continue ReadingBIR’s ‘substituted filing’ excuse false

The richest, the biggest tax evaders?

Many of the very wealthy Filipinos—those with at least a net worth of P5 billion—have managed to pay ridiculously low taxes of less than P4 million.
This is the most logical conclusion if one looks for the names of the Philippines’ 40 wealthiest people listed by Forbes magazine last year in the roster of the country’s 500 biggest taxpayers for 2011 as posted in the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s website.  (more…)

Continue ReadingThe richest, the biggest tax evaders?