ROUGH CUTS| Taxing sugar-enhanced beverages

WE agree 100 percent with Dr. William R. Adan, Ph.D., retired professor and former chancellor of the Mindanao State University – Naawan, Misamis Oriental Campus, in his view that the blame game on the Marawi war should now be stopped.

According to Dr. Adan the war has ended and the huge damage is already done. It is high time to focus on meeting the challenge to rebuild Marawi from the ruins of the war.

Yes, to some it would be easy to blame government whose bombs destroyed the city’s built-up area. But it is equally convenient for certain sectors to heap the blame on the local officials and the Marawi people for apparently not reporting to the national security agencies whatever activities that they might have observed in relation to the growth of extremism in the city.

Clearly however, based on the analysis of Dr. Adan, both the national government and the local officials, as well as residents of Marawi, committed lapses that allowed the home-grown estremists to evolve into a dangerous and ideology-committed group.

But like what Dr. Adan said, for the local officials and the Marawi residents to expose their fellow Maranao’s anti-government activities is tantamount to the betrayal of their fellow Muslims and even their own family members who could either be members or supporters of the extremist organization.

On the part of the national government, certain officials were reported to have advance knowledge of the existence of the terrorist group and of the illegal activities like the drug trade from where funds were generated to finance the terrorist operation including procurement of firearms and ammunition.

Why there was no immediate concrete action by the national government to prevent the “Frankensteinization” of the local extremists, like Dr. Adan, many were wondering.

Our hunch is that the lack of preemptive action could simply be the result of political expediency. It cannot be denied that national politicians, including Presidents, have alliances with local political leaders in Marawi.

So, the likelihood is that there were long-existing “modus vivendi” between the national leadership and the local officials. On the same vein, the local government executives definitely have their own operating arrangements with Moro militants in Marawi, many of whom are their political backers or close relatives.

Thus, we assume that it took such daring attack by the Maute clan-led local extremist and ISIS-inspired group last May 23 to finally “break the back of the President” which led to his order for the all-out war against the terrorists in Marawi and his declaration of Martial Law in the whole of Mindanao.

In other words, Dr. Adan is correct in pointing out that looking for someone or certain sectors to lay the blame on the occurence of the Marawi siege deserves no place on the discussion table at this point in time. It’s a given that the victors, the vanquished and the leaders and people of Marawi have their own share of the blame.

But today is the time to move as one in bringing back not just the Marawi of old but a modern Marawi that is attuned to the present political, structural and social dynamics.

-oOo-

It appears that there is already a strong and well-funded campaign against the imposition of additional taxes on sugar-enhanced beverages and related drinks. This we can be deduced from the ongoing airing on television of a 30-seconder ad detailing the adverse effects of the proposed tax imposition on softdrinks and related products on businessmen (manufacturers, dealers and retailers) and consumers.

Well, we can see the noble objective of the government in making such proposition. Its proponents claim that what would be collected from such tax can be used to fund the administration’s “build, build, built” program, and help the people live healthy lives as well.

But those engaged in the business of manufacturing and selling the softdrinks and related beverages are saying the additional tax would result to a sharp spike in the cost of the products. Therefore, it would mean reduction in the manufacturing output due to the high cost of ingredients acquisition.

The antis of the proposed tax measures are also claiming that the high cost of acquiring the products from its manufacturers immediately results to their low purchase volume and at the same time much-reduced sales. In summary, “lugi negosyo.”

Maybe the best question is, has the government not found any other taxable items that may not cause a serious dent in the pockets of the Filipinos masses? Yes, beauty products and beauty enhancement services are two examples. After all only the well-heeled can afford it and there are many who now patronize these products and services.

Or, maybe, our lawmakers can revisit the existing sin tax imposition. We have observed that the present sin tax rate does not seem to bother patrons of the sin items being covered. The sale of liquor and intoxicating beverages still continue to increase and the number of its aficionados is getting bigger and bigger.

So, why not increase it some more?

Posted in Opinion