Inquirer columnist Ramon Farolan, quoting from a book written by Singapore Ambassador Kishore Mahbubani, enumerated on Monday what made the late Singapore elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew great.
“Among Lee’s traits was being guided by deeply held values.
“In the early days of Singapore, corruption was a scourge. [Lee] and his colleagues were able to overcome this problem because they led by example. They did not take a penny while in office.
“[An] example of the steel in [Lee’s] spine was an event in 1996, when American teenager Michael Fay was convicted of vandalism and sentenced to five lashes of the cane. Most countries thought Singapore would falter under American pressure. Lee stood firm and proceeded with the caning.”
President Digong may not be an intellectual giant like Lee Kuan Yew, but he is street-smart and has the same traits mentioned earlier.
Mano Digong has made an example of Peter Laviña, his spokesperson during the election campaign, by dismissing him as chief of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) over a “whiff of scandal.”
The President refuses to give in to pressure from international groups and the Catholic Church for his unorthodox method of dealing with the scourge of drugs and criminality.
If Mr. Duterte continues to stay the course in running the country, the Philippines will be on the road to First World status by the end of his term.
If the President didn’t spare Laviña, one of the officials closest to him, from the boot, then he won’t hesitate to fire others who don’t adhere to his “change is coming” policy.
All he has to do is look closely at what’s happening in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Immigration, Land Transportation Office, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and Department of Public Works and Highways.
Unlike at the NIA, the scandals in those agencies are nauseating.
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It should not be the policy of the government to persecute and shame one company to favor another.
Mighty Corp., a homegrown firm, has lately been the subject of so much bad publicity.
If the cigarette company has placed fake BIR stamps on its products and evaded paying taxes, it should be penalized with fines over and above the taxes it owes the government.
But for the government to close down the company for alleged tax evasion just to please its rivals is like a father playing favorites among his children.
(By the way, why is the customs bureau involved in going after Mighty Corp. when the company has not violated customs laws?)
Clint Aranas, BIR’s deputy commissioner for legal affairs, is a level-headed official.
“The BIR is primarily responsible for running after tax evaders and will exert its best to collect taxes due the government. Mighty Corp. is just one of those companies under investigation for possible tax liabilities,” Aranas said.
“The power of taxation carries with it the power to destroy, that is why we should exercise it with caution and integrity,” he added.