"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Barangay Elections, SBMA Chair and Smuggling Transcript of Interview - 9/20/2005

ON BARANGAY ELECTION

GORDON: Good afternoon. We are happy to announce that the Bicameral Conference Committee on Revision of Laws and Constitutional Amendments and Local Government of both houses have today approved a bicameral conference report on the extension of terms of Barangay officials of the barangays as well as the Sangguniang Kabataan up to next election that has been scheduled for last Monday of October 2007.

INTERVIEWER: Magkano ang budget sir?

GORDON: The budget for holding a barangay election is P2.8 billion. However, we kept this open ended so that the Commission on Elections can submit a proper budget at the proper time. It is incumbent upon the executive to respect the decision of the legislature that when an election has been properly announced and besides it is also the desire of both houses that elections are regularized and in pursuit of that, it is the feeling of both houses that election should not be postponed by reason of lack of budget.

Automatically, all of the terms of the current elected barangay and SK officials will be extended up to October 7 until their successors are elected. The other thing is the term of all Barangay Captains and Sangguniang barangay ex-officio members shall likewise be extended.

INTERVIEWER: Sa House version is minimum of P1 billion, Senate version is minimum of P1.1 Billion?

GORDON: The P1.1 billion came from the election that were held in 2002. Both houses had no appropriation measure for this and we left it to the executive and Comelec to make the necessary proposal as to the kind of logistics they will need by way of moneys that will be required for the elections. I hope that they can also computerize the election by that time.

ON PHIL SALONGA’S APPOINTMENT AS SBMA CHAIRMAN

INTERVIEWER: Sir ano ang comment ninyo sa appointment ni Phil Salonga as SBMA chairman?

GORDON: I have not confirmed that. I have not been told. I’ve heard about that not only today but even previously. Two weeks ago, it has been prodded that he will be the chairman of Subic Bay. As far as I know about Phil, I knew him when I was still a teenager and he was a navy officer. He was the President of Philseco (in Subic town in Zambales) which was a shipyard before in Subic Bay even when the Americans were there. Hopefully he got the maturity and certainly the will to put Subic together again. But I have nothing to do with the appointment of Phil Salonga.

ON SMUGGLING

GORDON: Just to let you know, I am not intervening in Subic. I, however, will come out on a serialized, not an expose but a serialized dissemination on what is happening and what the country is losing not just in Subic but in other Ecozones as well.

Smuggling in this country has gone out of proportions and I think it is time that we focus on this because nobody seems to be addressing it. Nawawalan tayo ng pera, nahihirapan ang bayan at naghihirap tayong lalo tapos sa atin pa ipinapasa ang buwis because wala tayong focus sa paghuli ng mga smugglers na iyan.

INTERVIEWER: Doon sa kaso ng Port Irene?

GORDON: As far as I am concerned, whether it be in port Irene or in Cebu, it is the same. In the first place, right hand drive vehicles are not allowed to be imported in this country. That is the law and to me, parang ang mga huwes at mga abogado ng gobyerno ay nagmo-moro-moro because hindi yata ina-argue mabuti yung fact that there is a law RA 8505 that says, you can not import right-hand drive vehicles. It is very clear and there is no distinction. The customs zone of Subic is not part of the argument.

INTERVIEWER: Sir, you don’t think any difference or distinction in the example cited by Sen. Enrile about a car being converted in Hongkong and a car being converted in Port Irene? Even if it was converted elsewhere, is it still a converted car and should not be allowed in the country?

GORDON: Our laws restrict only the right-hand drive vehicles. So kung kinonvert sa Hongkong iyon at pumasok dito, technically hindi na right-hand drive ‘yun. Kung dumating yun kotse dito (Subic) at dito kinonvert that is still right-hand drive. The courts were always looking at different arguments and they were citing DOJ opinions and they say it’s okay even if it is wrong. You can allow a right-hand drive here because Subic is a special economic Freeport zone that allows transshipment. Meaning 100% of the cars that comes in must leave the country too. The trouble is it’s not leaving the country and in fact only 128 cars have left the country doon sa 3 years lang na importation ng almost 90,000 cars. I will repeat this, the low side for tax collection is set at PhP100,000 per car and its total is P13 Billion and the high side is P45 Billion. One classroom costs P45,000. With that money alone, you can complete all the schools in this country. That is what we are losing. Ang tatamaan naman dito ay hindi yung bumili ng kotse kundi ang mga importers.

For example, for a Toyota Hi-lux which was valued at $860, ang tax na binayad lang ay P59,000. Ang dapat bayaran, according to Customs is P1.2 million so the government lost P1,224,000, napakalaki ng disparities.

So every time we allow this, smugglers to get away with it, tayong mga mamamayan ang nahihirapan.

INTERVIEWER: Sino ba talaga ang protector ng smuggling doon…?

GORDON: Like I pointed out the other day, if this is happening, there are powerful people behind this and this has been happening for the last 7 years. Talagang grabe ang smuggling d’yan at hindi mangyayari iyan kung hindi pinapayagan ng mga matataas sa BOC, BIR at matataas sa Gobyerno.

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