Jojo A. Robles

Pac-Man vs. Taxman

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I knew President Noynoy Aquino would eventually weigh in on the tax case lodged by the Bureau of Internal Revenue against Manny Pacquiao. And yesterday, in Bohol, Aquino finally did – and walked straight into a stiff left from the champ.

 

Aquino urged Pacquiao not to air his gripes before the media, which the President described as a futile endeavor, since it was the courts that would decide the case. He said Pacquiao should just submit the documents required by BIR, which is seeking to collect P2.2 billion in back taxes from him.

I disagree with Aquino’s suicidal strategy. Pacquiao has every right to fight the impression being sold by BIR that he is a tax cheat, in the same way that he should dodge or parry a blow that could knock him down, like that last lucky punch from Juan Miguel Marquez.

On the other hand, Aquino has no right to tell Pacquiao to just get beat up in the same media “ring” by Kim Henares, especially if he believes that he has done no wrong. By going public with his travails at the hands of BIR, Pacquiao did what any Filipino should do, which is to point out the errors of government – the same one that welcomed the latest victory of this country’s greatest athlete by slapping him with a billion-peso tax suit.

Of course, Aquino is within his rights to do his job as he sees fit, regardless of the consequences. If the President decides that the right thing is to go after Pacquiao – while he has not moved to seize or garnish the money or properties of politicians or businessmen similarly accused (or even already convicted) – then that is what he should do.

However, Aquino should not complain if he is losing to Pacquiao in the scorecards of the public, where the well-loved boxer is on his way to winning another impressive, lopsided victory, this time against his own government. “Pac-man versus Taxman” already looks like so many of those resounding wins by the boxer simply because the government has no adequate defense to Pacquiao’s call to check with the US Internal Revenue Service to find out if he did pay the proper taxes stateside – and we’re just in the very early rounds of this bout.

Perhaps Aquino, with his impressive record of using the media to sway the public into seeing it his way, thought he could enter the ring with Pacquiao and beat the “people’s champ” in the propaganda game. Well, Aquino – as so many of Pac-Man’s hyped-up opponents discovered, to their regret – thought wrong.

I’m betting Pacquiao wins – if not yet in court, then right now in the hearts of the people. And that like Brandon Rios, Aquino, Henares and the entire government end up manhandled and in tears.


•••

 

This one’s for the books. Plans to build the first LEED-certified school in the country have encountered turbulence in the form of protests from a homeowners’ association of a subdivision along Katipunan Avenue, despite the institution’s stated goals to reduce its carbon footprint, champion the use of eco-friendly materials, promote sustainable design and protect the environment.

The Blue Ridge A Residents’ Association led by its president John Lao, is opposing the plan of Multi Intelligence International School to build an environmentally correct school along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City. The facility has already been certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) of the US Green Building Council, which uses a “whole-building approach” to rate structures on human and environmental health, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and environmental quality. 

LEED certification, which has been given to only a few buildings (like the new Zuellig headquarters in Makati) in a country where new structures are being put up almost on a daily basis, is believed to be the hardest – and costliest – environmental certification to get. So it comes as a surprise to the owners of MIIS, who also intend to instill in their students a desire to protect the environment, that the Blue Ridge association would oppose construction.

Understand, this is a neighborhood where bars, restaurants and other establishments have mushroomed even if they don’t have space for patrons to park their cars, thus clogging up the major artery; the traffic has now spread to the edge of the UP Diliman campus, where the developers of a new, ill-conceived mall also didn’t think to build enough parking spaces. And just down the road from Blue Ridge is a new condo complex that was built over the protests of the Loyola Heights community, which claims that the new high-rise sits right on top of the so-called Marikina Fault Line.

As a former resident of the Katipunan Avenue area, I know the lay of the land. And I have been assured by MIIS representatives that their new school has anticipated and addressed any impact like increased vehicular traffic that their school might cause, as part of their bid to secure LEED certification and the school’s own commitment to being environment-friendly.

 

But still the good people of Blue Ridge are protesting. Perhaps there is really more to their opposition than meets the eye.

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