What? The Marcoses back in Malacañang? Oh, no!
Imelda Marcos was wide awake when she emerged from her room in the family mansion in Batac, Ilocos Norte, to greet well-wishers on her 85th birthday last Wednesday. But she was obviously still dreaming when she talked about the Marcos family’s possible return to Malacañang in 2016.
In a newspaper report, she hinted that her only son, the namesake of her dictator-husband, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., may run for president in 2016. She said that Bongbong “is qualified” for the presidency and that “[returning to] Malacañang would be a great help” in implementing her projects.
Being qualified is different from being fit for the presidency. Bongbong is reported to have gotten P100 million from the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program), which he gave to the bogus nongovernment organizations of Janet Lim Napoles.
The fact that the graft cases against the Marcoses have been moving extremely slowly in the courts has obviously emboldened Imelda to dream of returning to Malacañang. Somebody should wake her up. Her days are over.
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A few days ago, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares took the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to task for what he said were a multitude of sins and urged that its officers either resign or be fired by the President. Pagcor has always been the object of envy and a magnet for fortune-hunters because it earns so much money from casino operators and their foreign clientele. Colmenares’ criticism is one result.
Pagcor was quick to send members of the media a record of its earnings and payments to the government to refute Colmenares’ attacks.
To begin with, Pagcor’s present management appears to be a responsible corporate citizen. It is only under the present administration that Pagcor has begun to remit cash dividends to the National Treasury and to pay corporate income tax and fringe benefits tax to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
According to Pagcor, it was only last Feb. 17 that the Department of Finance (DOF) informed it that it has to remit P5.88 billion in unpaid cash dividends dating back to 2005.
Pagcor said in a statement: “We immediately reconciled the figures and informed DOF that based on our own computations, Pagcor owes the National Treasury only P5.14 billion and this amount pertains to the unremitted cash dividends of the previous Pagcor administration.
“To date, we have already paid P2.44 billion, or almost half of the arrears. We already informed DOF that Pagcor will settle the remaining arrears amounting to P2.71 billion by next year.
“Apart from the cash dividends which this administration started paying beginning 2011, we have also settled P856.98 million in back taxes (P657.18 million in corporate income tax and P198.80 million in fringe benefits taxes) incurred by the previous Pagcor administration from 2004 to June 2010.”
Pagcor said it had also hastened the payment for loans “made by the past Pagcor management” for the acquisition of various properties. As of June 30, 2010, the loans amounted to P1.65 billion, and Pagcor said all the loans were paid in less than a year.
It said it also donated P5 billion to the Department of Education for the construction of public schools nationwide.
Pagcor said the previous board issued in 2008 and 2009 provisional gaming licenses to four proponents of Entertainment City, which is now fast developing on reclaimed land in Manila Bay. The licenses required the proponents to pay to Pagcor, in lieu of all taxes, license fees of 15 to 25 percent of gross gaming revenues, including the 5-percent franchise tax payable to the BIR.
But the BIR clarified on April 17, 2013, that while the proponents did not have to pay the 5-percent franchise tax, it had to pay income tax.
The new Pagcor board then adjusted the license fees by 10 percent to range from 5 to 15 percent instead of the original range of 15 to 25 percent so that the proponents can give the 10-percent adjustment directly to the BIR as income tax, Pagcor said. The proponents will still pay a total of 15 to 25 percent of their gross gaming revenues to the government, but the 10 percent will be paid directly to the BIR. This formula preserves the financial benefits for the government.
On the intelligence funds, Pagcor said, it is an accepted and necessary worldwide practice for casinos to have intelligence activities to prevent cheating and to protect the gaming clientele and the integrity of their gaming activities.
Pagcor said its “intelligence operations have been in place since 1993 and have always had presidential approval.” It added: “The fact that Pagcor’s operations have grown in complexity and size over the years cannot be overemphasized.”
As a parting shot, Pagcor said its intelligence funds for 2014 would be below 1999 levels and “lower by 46 percent compared to the highest annual intelligence expense incurred by the past Pagcor administration.” It also said it is still looking for ways to further reduce its intelligence expenses.
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