As I See It

A century after Bonifacio, hated ‘cedula’ still here

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On Aug. 26, 1896, in Balintawak (historians differ on the exact date and place), Andres Bonifacio and his Katipuneros tore up their  cedulas issued by the Spanish colonial government to start the Philippine Revolution. Today, believe it or not, those hated cedulas  are still with us and a modern Andres Bonifacio, a woman this time, still wants them figuratively torn up.

Commissioner Kim Henares of the Bureau of Internal Revenue said the cedula, or residential certificate, serves no useful purpose except to squeeze more money out of citizens for the benefit of local government units that issue them and collect the fees.

Cedulas   are supposed to certify where citizens reside and how much yearly income they earn. The amount of the fee depends on the amount of their yearly income. The bigger the income, the bigger the fee, for which reason many citizens do not tell the truth about their big incomes to keep the fees low. It is also not certain that the address they put there is where they really live. The clerks and cashiers who issue the cedulas  don’t care so long as the taxpayers pay the fee.

One can get a cedula  anywhere. In fact, there are fake ones being sold on sidewalks. It is clear that the  cedula  has no value as to the truth of what is written on it, yet it is still required to notarize and certify legal documents. You cannot even be sure that the name written on it is the real name of the person who presents it. So of what use is it?

Commissioner Henares is right: The  cedula  should be abolished, the sooner the better. It only adds to government red tape and is one more burden to citizens.

We should have instead a national identification card. Leftists opposed this when it was first proposed. It was an invasion of privacy, they said, because it would contain basic information on the person. But information such as name, date of birth, civil status, occupation, etc. are already in the many ID cards that a person has—SSS (Social Security System), GSIS (Government Service Insurance System), PhilHealth, Pag-Ibig, senior citizen, police and military, and driver’s license, apart from the IDs issued by employers and schools. A person may be carrying half a dozen or more of these IDs.

With a national ID, all of these different IDs would be combined in just one card. A person will have just one identification number. The same number will be used in SSS, GSIS, PhilHealth, Pag-Ibig, senior citizen, tax identification, and other transactions. The exception should be credit cards because it would be risky to have your credit card number readily available.

So scrap the cedula  and replace it with a national ID.

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Sen. Serge Osmeña questioned the “low” fine slapped on Philex Mining for the spill from its Tailings Pond 3 in Padcal, Benguet, on Aug. 1, 2012.

Osmeña said that the fine should be raised to P1 billion, and that the penalty imposed by Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Leo Jasareno and approved by Environment Secretary Ramon Paje was “a pittance.” The senator was surprised to know the penalties imposed by the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and other rules and regulations of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. They were “dirt-cheap,” he said.

Osmeña did not know that this schedule of penalties has been used for decades. And why did he not protest the “low fine” and move to raise the penalties to conform to his desire to punish mining companies that do not abide by the rules?

And why does he not mention other environmental disasters, such as that which struck the Lopez-owned Energy Development Corp. in Kananga, Leyte, in early March?

In the Leyte landslide, 14 workers were killed and the leak of toxic gas threatened to kill more workers.

Osmeña may also be interested in another landslide in the coal quarry on Semirara that killed several miners.

Or of the five underpaid Filipino workers in a palm oil plantation operated by Malaysians in Agusan del Sur who died of electrocution last year.

He may also look into the gas leak at the West Tower Condominium in Makati that the residents had blamed on the Lopez pipes beneath their building. Osmeña is related by marriage to the Lopezes.

Observers also note that Osmeña’s increasing attacks on a number of corporations, individuals and fellow legislators is directly proportional to the increase of his net worth. Based on his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), Osmeña’s net worth rose by P23.37 million  in one year (from 2011 to 2012)—an amount that is unprecedented in the Senate.

In 2011, his SALN showed his net worth at P82.3 million. The next year, his net worth zoomed to P105.47 million, meaning he gained more than P1 million every month. In contrast, his net worth in 2003 was only P53.2 million.

Osmeña is the 93rd biggest stockholder of Lopez Holdings, which owns 46.6 percent of First Philippine Holdings Corp. (FPH). In turn, FPH holds 3.9 percent of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).

Doesn’t Osmeña have a conflict of interest in conducting Senate committee hearings on power issues despite his being a stockholder of Meralco?

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KAPIHAN NOTES: Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim will be the guest at Monday’s Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel so he can answer the accusations made at the last Kapihan by his rival, former President Joseph Estrada, and by Vice Mayor Isko Moreno. Fair is fair. We give rivals equal time and opportunity. I think Erap, or somebody who looks like him, may show up to heckle Lim.

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