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Livelihood – or die

 

BY JULLIE Y. DAZA

 

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dza jullie yap daza - medium rare

OPEN the economy or “people will simply die because of lack of livelihood.”

President Duterte will call a special session of the Senate and House of Representatives to pass a stimulus package to revive the economy. In the same breath, certain congressmen are eager to kill the ABS-CBN petition for a new franchise that will keep the network going as a generous employer and corporate taxpayer.

With government aggressively fighting to curb the spread of the pandemic that has infected thousands, the national debt is now P9 trillion, with foreign loans totaling US$5.75 billion (about P290 billion).

ABS-CBN pays an average of P7 billion in taxes. It has 11,000 employees; multiply that by five family members and another five dependents (drivers, “alalay,” food servers, and other part-time workers), you get a rough idea of how much in withholding and individual income taxes due from them will be denied BIR.

Since the long lockdowns all over our islands, thousands of small businesses have closed, 7.2 million jobs lost, with another 5 million cuts looming. A street dweller put it so poignantly: To die of COVID or joblessness? Three months later, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez echoed the message: Open the economy or “people will simply die because of lack of livelihood,” as quoted by Secretary Harry Roque.

Mr. Duterte has warned that once the treasury is emptied, he will sell CCP, PICC, Roxas Blvd., etc., and buy anti-COVID vaccines. DepEd doesn’t have funds to buy laptops, tablets, and digital gadgets for thousands of teachers and millions of learners. The economy has been brought to its knees. The middle class is getting poor, the poor are growing poorer, the rich are not investing.

Thousands more OFWs will be coming home to a host of problems arising mainly from competition for jobs and lack of opportunities.

The lockdown of ABS-CBN’s free-to-air TV and radio, followed by the amputation of Sky Direct and TV Plus promises incalculable damage to an already damaged economy and society.

Hard to believe that the anti-ABS bloc of “hearing” congressmen representing the urban poor, Cavite, Nueva Ecija, and other areas do not hear their constituents bewailing how they miss being informed, entertained, and served by the network especially during emergencies and disasters.

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