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A NEW tax bill has been filed in Congress proposing to include in RA 8424, the National Internal Revenue Code of the Philippines, a R10 excise tax per liter of sugar-sweetened beverages, on top of the 12 percent value-added tax (VAT) that is now being passed on to buyers. The tax bill, filed by Rep. Horacio Suansing Jr. of Sultan Kudarat and Rep. Estrellita Suansing of Nueva Ecija is among a number of tax measures expected to be part of the new administration’s plan for a more equitable tax regime.

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THE Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in 2013, followed by the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of Malacañang and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in 2015. The administration had used the first to influence legislators and the second to fund programs even without congressional approval.

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THE good news is that the Philippine economy, as measured by Gross Development Product (GDP), grew by 7 percent in the second quarter of this year – April to June. Not so laudatory is the observation that this has not been inclusive growth, that the statistical gain has not been felt by most Filipinos who have seen no improvement in their daily lives.

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WHILE the nation debated on whether the remains of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos should be interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the death of Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” S. Aquino Jr. – the single most crucial incident that precipitated Marcos’ downfall – passed largely unnoticed by the general public last Sunday, August 21.

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THE Senate opens today an inquiry into the ongoing anti-drugs campaign of the Duterte administration which has already resulted in hundreds of deaths, thousands of arrests, and tens of thousands of surrenders of both pushers and users. Over 800 had already been killed by the middle of last month and the figure continues to grow, raising fears of human rights violations.

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THE issue of labor contractualization figured prominently in the last election campaign with all the presidential candidates endorsing the move to abolish – or at least to revise it and keep it within reasonable bounds.

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