ATENEO de Manila University and businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan—arguably the school’s second most prominent living alumnus after President Aquino—finally patched things up last month. Critical differences were apparently set aside for the good of the school’s student body (or, more specifically, the basketball team) that benefit from MVP’s financial support.
Of course, other less wealthy schools could put the money to better use, such as the state-run University of the Philippines or MVP’s own high school alma mater San Beda College, which already enjoys his support.
One of the many reasons for the reconciliation may be the fact that the Ateneo has existing commercial arrangements with MVP-led Smart Communications, which has several base stations inside the Katipunan campus. These base stations are a crucial part of Smart’s network in Quezon City. These also support Smart’s network in the eastern part of Metro Manila, particularly the vast suburbia of Marikina.
Of course, Ateneo is fairly compensated for hosting these facilities, but, without MVP, nothing really stands in the way of the school’s current or future management from having these stations taken down for whatever reason. In any case, MVP and Ateneo have put all unpleasantness behind them and the school’s alumni can sleep well at night with the thought that the Blue Eagles will continue to win trophies for years to come. Paolo Montecillo
Changed by the game
WORD on the street is that WilTime Bigtime—the flagship entertainment program of Manny Pangilinan-controlled TV5—will soon relinquish its primetime television slot amid financial head winds being encountered by the program and the television station.
According to our sources, the game show anchored by controversial celebrity Willie Revillame would likely be moved back to the time slot where it first became famous: the noontime segment. Here, Revillame will have to compete against ABS-CBN’s “Showtime” and GMA’s long-running “Eat Bulaga” variety shows.
The game show host hinted as much recently, supposedly telling his viewers to watch for new developments by January. Staffers—including some of the nubile dancers his show is famous for—are also being encouraged to explore other employment options, we’re told.
One source opined that, after the initial spike in ratings, TV audiences have generally migrated back to news programs that air during that time slot and stay tuned on either ABS-CBN or GMA-7 for their telenovelas.
So instead of changing the game as network executives had hoped for, TV5 is now reportedly planning to play a more conventional game by introducing teleseryes in the primetime slots. Daxim L. Lucas
‘Not too drastic’
SPEAKING of taxes, heir apparent Michael Tan is concerned about the unprecedented high excise taxes mulled by legislators on cigarettes and liquor, which are among the core businesses of the Lucio Tan Group.
“We are in favor of restructuring and rationalizing the tax rate and contributing to government efforts, but done in a way that’s equitable,” he says.
A sharp hike in excise taxes (as espoused by the Senate version of sin taxes), Tan says, may open the floodgates to illicit products and encourage backyard and unregulated distilleries that compromise consumer safety. In short, he says, this may encourage smuggling especially of cigarettes through the country’s “porous borders.”
“As a local player who has been here for some 30 to 40 years, we don’t want the structure to favor imports,” Tan says. “There are a lot of farmers, jobs at stake. When imports flood in, the multiplier effect will not take place. That’s not going to be equitable and fair.”
Tan explains that excise tax collection of the Bureau of Internal Revenue at present is very efficient as 100 percent of taxes are levied upon factory withdrawal, which prompt manufacturers to pay the taxes in advance.
“But I can’t say the same thing about Customs when illicit products come in numerous ways,” he says.
Manufacturers can always pass on the cost to consumers, Tan says, but explains that the long-term effect may be dire. On the decline in excise taxes as a percentage of revenue in the Philippines to less than 2 percent from over 3 percent, Tan says this may be because the contribution of other sectors like telecommunications has expanded.
Tan says a good taxation framework, as affirmed by the International Monetary Fund, should be broad-based and not overly dependent on any particular industry.
In the end, he says, excise taxes can be restructured “in a way that’s win-win for all, not too drastic.” Doris C. Dumlao
Sin tax see-saw
ACCORDING to our sources, deliberations in the bicameral conference committee over the proposed sin tax bill may turn out to be a blowout of sorts for the tobacco industry, if anti-smoking advocates are to be believed.
While the fight will center on how the Senate’s proposed P40-billion target revenue will be reconciled with the House of Representatives’ P31-billion proposal, some anti-smoking advocates are now worried that the bill may favor the tobacco industry.
A cursory look at the composition of the Senate’s contingent to the bicam would suggest that the group may be tobacco-friendly. Apart from Sen. Ralph Recto, who originally headed the Senate ways and means committee, the Senate contingent would also include lawmakers from tobacco-growing regions like Sen. Bongbong Marcos and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
As of last count, there were at least 35 medical organizations and lobby groups pushing for the tobacco industry to carry the bulk of the sin tax tax levy. These anti-smoking advocates believe that the proposed revenue split—60 percent from tobacco and 40 percent from alcohol—may not be enough to curb smoking, as the government wants.
The anti-smoking lobby is now banking on ways and means committee chair Frank Drilon, who has actively campaigned for a heavier tax on the tobacco industry. However, the anti-tobacco lobby’s best leverage has come from the most unlikely of sources, with President Aquino being reported to have fallen ill recently due to conditions that may have been smoking-related.
So which industry will bear the brunt of the sin taxes: tobacco or alcohol? Abangan. Daxim L. Lucas
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