Ask, seek, knock or try

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

Back when my daughter Hannah was in Junior High, she and some friends wanted so much to color or highlight their hair. Unfortunately, the school policy was against colored or hair highlights. Hannah eventually brought the issue home and expressed her views over dinner.

After sharing how, in my high school days, we held a one-day violent protest after our school banned “bell bottom” jeans, I encouraged my daughter to do the research regarding the rule and discuss it with their principal. After that, she went on to research if the DepEd actually had a firm rule on hair color or highlights.

After a few weeks, Hannah came home all excited to tell us that there was no rule on hair color or highlights and that her school had given the green light to students, provided their parents approved of it. Hannah put in the work, the time and stuck with the belief that “it can happen” – but little did I know that Hannah would go for “The Color Purple!”

I remembered this chapter in our life after a provincial mayor complained how the progress and development of his city was being held back by an insidious practice of companies and corporations in paying their income tax. For the last 30 years, I have known of this practice which has been to the disadvantage of provincial local government units.

What happens is that major corporations, hotels, resorts, malls, property developers, all pay sales tax or VAT locally but when it comes to paying their income taxes, they pay these in the city or municipality where their corporation is registered. Back in the 80’s, it was simply a matter of convenience and security for companies to pay where the head office was and where their preferred banks were as well.

But more recently, I was told by another angry mayor that some companies are not simply security conscious or lazy, they actually have a sweet deal going on with certain Metro Manila-based LGUs. Apparently one or two major cities in Metro Manila are favorite business addresses because they give some form of discount, tax incentive or payment scheme.

When a number of mayors tried to convince known corporations to pay income taxes for their businesses located outside Metro Manila, the standard question was: what’s in it for us? Are you willing to give us a tax incentive? It seems that many corporations even think that the LGU should be grateful to them for setting up shops and businesses in their province or localities.

They conveniently forget that their businesses compete directly with the community in terms of resources such as water, electricity, transport, even manpower, while also causing traffic and pollution as well as killing mom and pop outlets or sari-sari stores.

I know that one or two members of past Congresses have attempted to pass a bill that would require corporations to pay income taxes where they make the money and not where their business is registered. Unfortunately, that bill has not been heard from since.

Given that Senate President Chiz Escudero and Speaker Martin Romualdez both have “provincial roots,” I humbly suggest that they both include such a bill in their joint legislative agenda. Governors, mayors, even barangay captains have all been singing “My Fair Share” (Seals & Crofts) but corporations and certain Metro Manila cities are not playing fair.

Ironically, the incentive giving, sweet dealing LGUs make more money than they can ever use and will be getting even more after the Supreme Court agreed with Governor Mandanas of Batangas that LGUs should have increased share of Internal Revenue Allotments.

Aside from giving provincial LGUs their fair share from corporate income tax revenues, those funds will certainly ensure the continuing development of provincial LGUs where those corporations are already taking in profits. It’s like reinvesting in your business, your market and your community.

Such development will certainly help in creating new townships, new growth areas that President Bongbong Marcos has been talking about, as well as contribute to the decongestion of Metro Manila. As companies like San Miguel Corporation and Metro Pacific invest in infrastructure and connectivity nationwide, local government units must have added funds to prepare the ground or create business environments for growth and investments.

I have always been a staunch believer in M7.7 or Matthew 7:7 where Jesus Christ teaches us such a powerful method of believing, manifesting or what kids refer to as one law of attraction: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Aside from M7.7, I also practice the discipline of KULIT or nagging persistence, the power of prayer and forming alliances either for effective influence or force multipliers to create public opinion or substantiate a need or acquire an asset.

Based on these and many successful undertakings, I encourage my friends in the LGUs to believe in their claim, back it up with research as well as previous proposals and bills submitted in Congress, gather the different LGU organizations of governors, mayors, barangay captains as well as sympathetic corporations, the academe and your friends in local or national media.

If all this fails to change the rules or mindset, then take the matter to court! It would surely be interesting to see what happens when corporate practice ends up in the path of a train called the Local Government Code, which is a law of the land.

That is what Governor Mandanas of Batangas did and he won for every local government unit in the land. Just do it and believe!

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E-mail: [email protected]

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