PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO’S OPENING STATEMENT DURING A MEETING OF THE NATIONAL PRICE COORDINATING COUNCIL WITH THE NEDA-CABINET GROUP
Heroes Hall, Malacañang
March 25, 2008
I’d like to call this National Price Coordinating Council and NEDA-Cabinet Group meeting to order.
Please sit down so I can make a few opening remarks for this and for the next meeting.
Nalulungkot tayo, ang sambayanang Pilipino, sa karamdaman ni dating Pangulong Aquino. Siya ang nanguna sa ating bansa sa mapayapang pagbabago. Ipinanalalangin natin siya, ang paggaling niya at ang katatagan ng kaniyang pamilya.
Mga kababayan, matapos ang dalangin at sakripisyo ng Mahal na Araw, kailangan bumalik agad tayong lahat sa trabaho. Ngayong umaga, magpupulong ang NEDA-Cabinet Group kasama ang National Price Coordinating Council upang lalong paigtingin ang mga pagkilos mula pa noong isang taon upang mabawasan ang pagtaas ng presyo ng bilihin.
The global economy is facing significant challenges. These global forces are putting more strain on our working poor as prices for commodities like rice and fuel increase. We are a price-sensitive nation.
Kaya naman pinulong natin agad ang Gabinete at Price Coordinating Council para sa anumang aksiyong kailangan pa upang laging sapat ang pagkain. Hinihiling natin sa mga tindero na huwag magtaas ng presyo dahil lamang may nagsasabing may krisis.
The Secretary of Agriculture is staking out all NFA warehouses so he can follow the big 10-wheeler trucks and see where they are bringing rice. I’m instructing the NBI to assist him in doing this.
He’s investigating all warehouses, watching them, re-licensing them. He shall hit the hoarders.
Patuloy ang iba pa nating pagkilos upang pigilin ang pagtaas ng gastusin. Nagpapasalamat tayo sa Manila Water, Maynilad at Meralco sa kamakailan pagsunod sa ating panawagan na bawasan ang singil sa mahihirap na pamilya. At nagagalak tayo sa paghinto ng welga at taas-pasahe ng pampublikong sasakyan matapos nating iutos na huwag paulit-ulit na tikitan ang mga tsuper ng mga local governments. Dapat magtulungan tayong lahat laban sa pagmahal ng bilihin.
Magpupulong din mamaya ang National Security Cabinet Group, kasama ng NEDA, Bureau of Customs at BIR upang pataasin ang koleksiyon ng buwis at sugpuin ang smuggling.
Our revenue target for this year according to Secretary Teves is P1.236 trillion broken down as follows: BIR P845 billion, BOC P254 billion, Treasury P57 billion, and other offices P80 billion, P30 billion of which is privatization.
We recently signed a letter of instructions to the DOF, the BIR and Customs to propose a government-civil society body similar to the Procurement Transparency Group, to monitor collection efforts, gather lifestyle and corruption information, and follow up major evasion or smuggling cases, the latter in close coordination with the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group.
The PTG version in Customs shall be called PORTAL or Ports Transparency Alliance. The mode for partnership shall be defined by a Framework of Cooperation to Undermine Smuggling or FOCUS which will define the duties and responsibilities of the Bureau of Customs and the partner trade, businessmen, church, civil society groups which will monitor a particular smuggling-prone commodity like oil, which shall be called OilWatch and foodstuffs under AgriWatch.
The alliance should follow product lines as there exist a bilateral anti-smuggling relationship between the BOC and the likes of PHILSUCOM and the Sugar Alliance on sugar led by Governor Joe Zubiri; the tile manufacturers of ceramics; there’s a petrochemical alliance on resins; PHILCEMCOR on cement. The idea is to build on these institutional linkages but give them a shot in the arm by expanding membership to include churchmen, fair trade advocates, and proponents of trade facilitation or anti-red tape.
These alliances shall be federated into the overarching PORTAL without, however, losing the independence and the initiative of the anti-smuggling compact of the BOC and trade associations. What is important is to provide civil society a peephole into Customs operations but in a way that won’t disrupt the main job of raising revenues which might be disrupted if excessive oversight powers are delegated to the private sector. Selection of outside lifestyle checkers shall be done carefully to avert witchhunt.
PORTAL shall also undertake downstream activities by plugging smuggling from the demand side, by asking consumers to boycott smuggled goods -- “When the buying stops, the smuggling does, too.” This shall dovetail with the Buy Philippine Made Campaign by domestic manufacturers. PORTAL shall highlight technology-aided revenue enhancement measures, such as X-ray and computerization, and other interventions that reduce personal contacts in transactions which in turn give discretionary powers to revenue officers.
The PORTAL program shall be for immediate implementation.
The PTG-like formation for BIR shall be called Partnership for a Transparent and Efficient Revenue Service or PARTNERS, a name that captures our vision for a principled and productive collaboration between the government and those that provide the lifeblood for its operations. If we believe that taxation without representation is tyranny, we likewise believe that citizen representation in taxation is also a democratic ideal.
We count on our civil society partners to help us remind our people that taxes are the membership dues of citizens. In return, taxes paid shall be rebated in the form of public services. The citizens will get their rebates in kind, in terms of new infrastructure, peace and order, and education for all. But this can only proceed from voluntary tax obedience, which we encourage by ensuring that every one pays their share as fixed by laws and not fixed by men.
Ito ang landas na ating lalakarin sa mga taong darating. Tututukan natin ang mga programang pang-imprastraktura at pangmasa, at hindi magpapalihis sa pamumulitika. Samantala, kikilos ang mga institusyon ng hustisya -- ang Ombudsman, ang Kagawaran ng Katarungan, ang mga hukuman, upang siyasatin at hatulan ang mga paratang ayon sa katibayan at bantay ng taong bayan. Sa ganitong paraan matatamo natin ang kaunlaran, kapayapaan, katotohanan at katarungan sa ating bayan.
Maraming salamat at Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino! (applause)