Fighting the Philippine’s Looting Machines

By  Vic Odarve

Graft and corruptions, tax evasions, and smuggling activities are the looting machines that keep the Philippines a poor country.  To combat this looting machines, the President had accelerated his predecessor’s campaign against graft and corruptions, tax cheaters, and smugglers. To date, several officials have been fired for alleged corruption or

Graft and corruption

misconduct and going extravagant trips. On tax evasion, the government has ongoing tax administration reforms and review of the declared asset and income in the submitted Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) of all public officials. Lately, the President also issued a directive to publicly destroy illegally shipped contrabands in the country’s economic zones aimed at deterring smuggling. Thus, a war of nerve emerges… Duterte vs The Looting Machines.

According to a report by Global Financial Integrity, the Philippines lost aboutP19.34 trillion between 1960 and 2011 on graft and corruption and keep on increasing. Big time corrupt officials are from the government offices, bigwigs in our society, and business magnates and oligarchs. Hence, it is not surprising that to date, nearly two dozen officials have been fired for alleged corruption and going on extravagant trips since Duterte came to power two years ago.  The   Bureau of Customs tops the list among the corrupt government officials. Duterte said, “If you go to the national government just to look for an opportunity for money, go look for another job. I will really fire you,” Duterte told employees of the Department of Agrarian Reform on June 20. The Pork barrel scam led by Napoles where billions of pesos were stolen from the Filipino people must be a thing of the past. Corruption remains a significant barrier why we are left behind from our Asian neighbors in economy and progress.

Illegal shipment

On tax evasion, the government has found out that the primary source of corruptions is the BIR examiners in connivance with government officials and politicians and bigwigs in our society. Therefore, the government with all of its power brought to the court all corrupt BIR examiners and government officials and slapped with tax evasion cases. In the previous administration, they impeached former Chief Justice Corona while the current one is the case of Chief Justice Sereno. Tax evasion was also dealing with Rappler and Dunkin’ Donuts of the Prietos, who own the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Erring examiners were put under investigation after being asked to resign if they will not stop corrupt practices. The BIR had also filed before the DOJ three tax evasion cases against homegrown cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corp. and its top executives for a total of P37.9 billion in unpaid excise taxes due to the alleged use of fake tax stamps. Lucio Tan, one of the richest Filipinos, owes the government at least P30 billion in unpaid taxes. And still, there are some other oligarchs in the country doing the same under the government periscope.

The coming of the new generation

Another headache is the smuggling of goods from foreign countries that include basic necessities such as rice, onions, etc. and cars. Lately, the government intercepted expensive cars and motorbikes together with some of the 800 contraband vehicles imported in Cagayan port. Thus, as directed by the President, bulldozers were used to destroy a total of 68 contraband luxury vehicles valued at P277.9 million and 8 luxury motorbikes worth P19.5 million. Among the luxury cars destroyed were Lamborghini Gallardo, Porsche Carrera and Mercedez Benz SLK 280.  Since car smugglers still rake in profits from the selling of seized cars, destroying the smuggled luxury vehicles will give them no opportunity to secure them legally through the Bureau of Customs.

The Philippines is a sick man in Asia due to graft and corruption, tax evasion, and smuggling. Since Duterte is not beholden to any of the political, social or economic elites, he can focus his energy to run after these untouchables without fear. Although he has a big foul mouth, Duterte has the will to implement the law for the good of the country. People are fed up with sweet talking politicians for several decades. But one thing of caution to the president: he must always consult and listen to his advisers on critical matters like the case of mayor Espinosa and now on Senator Trillanes before making a public announcement.

Fighting these looting machines is a difficult job. But Duterte has the support from the majority of the Filipinos. Sometimes the scenarios’ give us pain but it must be done for the betterment of the next generations.





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