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Breaktime

Burden of Eden

/ 12:28 AM November 30, 2015

NOBODY in the Aquino (Part II) administration surely wanted to sow panic among the public, but our bright Land Transportation Office (LTO) recently decided it was time to warn us about hardened criminals roaming our streets—your ordinary garden-variety professional drivers.

That was the reason, according to the bright bosses in the LTO, that the government just had to impose tough new rules on the renewal of licenses for professional drivers.

LTO boss and Assistant Secretary Alfonso Tan Jr. even dropped his bombastic rhetorical question: Do you want rapists to drive the tricycles carrying your daughters to school?

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Thus, on top of other LTO requirements for the renewal of the professional driver’s freaking license, the sons of their mothers in DOTC had the bright idea to require professional drivers to secure police clearances and NBI clearances.

The LTO also required newly issued medical certificates, with “official receipts” attached.

And yet we all know that many of our professional drivers are categorized as minimum wage earners, particularly those driving public utility vehicles.

Like it or not, the LTO’s new requirements would hurt them. The perceptive Sen. Ralph Recto warned that the additional requirements would cost more than two million professional drivers some P3 billion in “fees and lost income.”

Incidentally, our leader Benigno Simeon, aka BS, recently fell in love with statistics, sprinkling his speeches with them, particularly during major international events such as the Asean and Apec summits.

He claimed, for instance, the Naia scam called “tanim-bala (bullet-planting)” was nothing but a fictitious product of “sensationalized” news.

To prove his claim, our leader BS noted airport authorities only recorded some 1,200 cases—a small chunk considering more than 34 million people actually used the airport last year.

It probably did not occur to him that there were “unrecorded” cases—extortion victims had to pay up to be “unrecorded.”

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On another occasion during the Apec CEO Summit, our leader BS also tried to show his audience, made of big-time entrepreneurs and top corporate executives, that the local business community was composed of a bunch of liars.

To expose the business leaders as nothing but crybabies, our dear leader BS used some statistics, again, revealing that the infrastructure budget during his time increased from 1 percent of the GDP to something like 4 percent.

Impressive! Well, except that our leader forgot to say that he was actually referring to the entire “capital outlay” of the national government for things like office equipment and new cars for government officials.

In other words, it was not really the “infrastructure” budget. Besides, this administration has become famous all over the world for its terrible “underspending.”

The government’s “underspending” could total P1 trillion in the past five years of the Aquino (Part II) administration, a rather huge amount that this country could have used, definitely, for “infrastructure.”

Back to the calculation of Recto, the good senator was rather conservative. He did not even include the travel expenses, for instance.

The last time I checked, the NBI did not exactly have offices all over the place. SM malls were more accessible than the NBI.

In Region VIII, for instance, the NBI only had one site—Catbalogan—which serves a population of 4 million.

To get to Catbalogan, those in the Leyte and Samar provinces, plus Biliran, would have to cross the seas and the mountains, forge rivers and streams, walk across fields and highways and byways, in order to reach the NBI center.

The LTO requirement presumes everyone is a criminal, and it would thus be up to each one of us to prove that we are not—precisely by securing NBI and police clearances. It seemed that the LTO wanted to burn the entire house to get rid of a few houseflies in it.

Why could the NBI and police not just share their records with the LTO, thus relieving the citizens of this republic the burden of proof?

The country has already earned a reputation of being notorious when it comes to red tape, based on World Bank’s report “Ease of Doing Business.”

Under the Aquino (Part II) administration, for instance, the BIR and the BOC at one time also required all directors and managers of corporations in the country to make personal appearances in their respective offices.

Why? Well, the BIR and the BOC wanted to fight smuggling. It seemed that smugglers simply set up “fake” corporations, using fictitious addresses as front for their smuggling operations.

And did the BIR and the BOC catch the smugglers? To begin with, the smugglers did not bother to appear before the bureaus.

The World Bank study also revealed that, in this country under this administration, medium-sized firms must pay, in the form of taxes and fees, an equivalent of 43 percent of their profit.

With the burden from red tapes and tax rates, really, this country would be more of a burden of Eden for business.

Check out our Asean 2017 special site for important information and latest news on the 31st Asean Summit to be held in Manila on Nov. 13-15, 2017. Visit http://inquirer.net/asean-2017.

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TAGS: Alfonso Tan Jr., APEC, ASEAN, Business, DoTC, Land Transportation Office, LTO, NAIA, nbi, News, Ralph Recto
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