Friday, May 20, 2005

Oil pricing remains a mystery|Hiwaga sa presyo ng krudo/Death and taxes|Buwis at kamatayan (PJI editorials 20-21 May 2005)

Oil pricing remains a mystery

IT’S off the mark every time — the figures guessed at by consumer groups don’t ever tally with the numbers tabbed by oil players at the gas pumps, whether the price adjustment soars up or, by some major miracle, it goes down.

Thus, fuel pricing remains a mystery to all of us.

Taciturn executives of oil firms have been haled to congressional hearings over the past years to throw light on this mystery. Like gamblers out to out-hustle lawmakers, those oil fat cats hemmed and hawed while keeping their cards close to their chest. So to this day, the public remains in the dark as to how oil firms unleash pump figures that often cause commodity price spirals and shattered household budgets.

Transparency isn’t exactly a trait of oil companies, whether they’re upstarts or grizzled giants in the playing field. We need not be told: oil players do not want consumers to know the arithmetic of oil pricing.

For its silent partner part in this crime of sorts, the government also plays mum on oil pricing. Both the Departments of Energy and Finance aren’t giving away the figures on levies and taxes slapped on every liter of fuel landed on our shores. In Norway, for example, two-thirds of the fuel pump price is made up of taxes—say, for the equivalent of off-the-pump P27 per liter of diesel, P18 is actually paid to the government and the remaining P9 is for the recovery of refining, administrative, and overhead costs plus some profit for the oil company.

We don’t get that stark-clear picture from either oil players or the government. So don’t blame us for this sinking feeling that government and oil firms are actually in cahoots—both are likely laughing and scratching each other’s back on their way to the bank.

The most that oil players and government could give to domestic fuel consumers are reminders to conserve energy.

They’re making us laugh with this new joke.

We’re crying instead.
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Hiwaga sa presyo ng krudo (Translation into Pilipino)

HARI ng sablay kahit kailan ang anumang makakapang numero ng mga grupong konsumer—laging iba ang mga bilang na ilalapat ng mga kompanya ng langis sa kani-kanilang pambomba hatakin man paitaas o (kapag may malaking milagro) pababa ang presyo.

Nananatiling mahiwaga sa balana ang tumpak na paglalapat ng presyo sa mga produkto de krudo.

Ipinatawag na nitong mga nakalipas na taon sa Kamara’t Senado ang mga pinuno ng oil companies para maliwanagan ng sambayanan ang anumang hiwagang bumabalot sa presyo ng krudo. Pero tulad sa mga pusakal na sugarol, laging iwas-pusoy at ni hindi naglalantad ng kanilang baraha ang mga kumpanya ng langis. Kaya naman hanggang ngayon, kumakapa sa karimlan ang sambayanan kaugnay sa kalikutan ng presyo ng krudo—na madalas sundan ng pagtaas ng presyo ng iba pang bilihin at pagkawindang ng bulsa ng bawat pamilya.

Hindi rin pumuputak ang gobyerno kaugnay sa naturang hiwaga. Hindi naglalabas ng anumang numero ang Department of Energy o Finance hinggil sa mga pataw na buwis at taripa sa bawat litrong inangkat na mga produkto de krudo. Sa Norway bilang halimbawa—sa katumbas na pump price na P27 por litro ng diesel, P18 ang sasalin sa kaban ng gobyerno habang sa matitirang P9 kukunin ang gastos sa pagluto, pangangasiwa’t kaugnay na gugulin pati na tubo ng kompanya.

Hindi ganito kalinaw ang ipinapakita sa atin ng mga kompanya ng langis at ng gobyerno. Kinukutuban na tuloy tayo na tahasang nagsasabwatan ang mga ito—hagalpak ng halakhak at nagkakamutan ng kani-kanilang likod habang nagkakamal ng limpak-limpak na salapi.

Pinakahuling pakulo nila ang pagkalkal na naman ng iba’t ibang payo para tayo magtipid sa enerhiya.

Nagbibiro yata ang mga ito at gusto tayong patawanin.

Humahagulgol na tayo sa ngayon.

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Death and taxes

CAPITAL punishment in this god-forsaken part of the world, it means taxes.

Taxmen now hog the headlines. They hurl the books on so-called tax-dodging celebrities that include the likes of Richard Gomez, Regine Velasquez, and Judy Ann Santos. Gomez is accused of failing to declare four years' worth of income. Santos and Velasquez failed to pay a years' worth of income taxes, according to reports.

Tax records show that around 9 of every 10 stars don’t bother to pay taxes or snip a paltry 1.5 percent off their gross income—and pay such pittance as tax.

Such pitiable compliance among the most sought-after faces and talents in show business probably seeks to refute that cliché about the certainty of death and taxes in life.

We may now entertain notions about idolizing ‘em not-so-admirable stars for their sheer chutzpah, their quaint steel nerves that induce amnesia come tax payment dates, even their kapal ng apog for reducing one of life’s certainties into something uncertain.

The rest of us are lesser mortals grub daily to keep together body and soul. We are helpless at the automatic 10% income tax pruned automatically off our meager take-home pay. And we comprise the bulk of something like 7 million individual and corporate income taxpayers who don’t have the smarts or the gall to take any evasive action at the certainty of taxes.

What about death? Some can cheat death, too.

The death penalty hangs fire under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo tenure because the Church tells her to dump such a penalty. Too, so-called Pro-Life groups are also crying themselves hoarse and blue in the face to throw capital punishment out the window.

Sure, life is to be cherished. Sure, life becomes more precious when it is invested with a sense of purpose and meaningful goals. One cop found out too late that his own comrades-in-arms didn’t mind murdering him in cold blood to cover their tracks and keep for themselves a few kilograms of shabu worth millions of pesos. Two of those rogue cops were caught, tried, found guilty, and were meted capital punishment for their heinous crime. Their other cop-cohorts are at large and are probably converting those few kilograms of shabu into cash.

Those felons need not pay taxes and need not pay with their lives.

Cheating at death and taxes isn’t rampant in these god-forsaken parts. It’s now trenchant.

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Buwis at kamatayan (Translation into Pilipino)

SA isinumpa yatang bahagi na ito ng mundo, ang katuturan ng capital punishment ay buwis.

Tila kuto na nakasiksik sa ulo ng mga balita ang mga pumipiga ng buwis. Nahagip nila ang mga sikat na iwas-buwis tulad nina Richard Gomez, Regine Velasquez, at Judy Ann Santos. Apat na taon umanong hindi nagbayad ng buwis mula sa kinita niya si Gomez. Santaon namang sablay sa kanilang bayad-buwis sina Velasquez at Santos, ayon sa mga ulat.

Lumitaw sa tax records na siyam sa bawat 10 artista ay tahasang hindi nagbubuwis o tumatabas lang ng 1.5% sa kanilang kabuuang kita at ibabayad ang ganoong tinga bilang buwis.

Baka naman ang ganoong karumal-dumal na pagtupad ng mga sikat sa mga umiiral na batas sa pagbubuwis ay pagtibag lang sa gasgas nang kasabihan—na ang dalawang tiyak na bagay sa buhay ay buwis at kamatayan.

Baka humanga na kami sa mga dating hindi namin hinangaang bituin sa kanilang tindi, sa kanilang utak na madalas mahagip ng amnesia at Alzheimer’s disease tuwing bayaran ng buwis, pati sa kapal ng kanilang apog na tahasang nagpasablay sa dalawang tiyak na bagay sa buhay.

Karaniwang mortal lang kaming karamihan na kumakayod araw-araw. Ni hindi kami makapalag sa 10% income tax na agad kinakatam sa aming karampot na kita. Kabilang kami sa mga 7 milyong individual at corporate income taxpayers na kulang sa gulang at apog para makaiwas sa halibas ng buwis.

Ano naman sa kamatayan? May mga nakakaiwas din.

Nasa balag ng alanganin ang parusang kamatayan sa ilalim ng pamumuno ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo dahil nasasabihan siya ng Simbahan na tahasang ibasura na ang ganoong pataw na parusa. Malakas ding umatungal ang mga tinatawag na grupong Pro-Life para ibalibag na sa kangkungan ang ganoong takda ng batas.

Talagang dapat bigyang halaga ang buhay. Talagang tumitingkad ang halaga ng buhay kapag may makabuluhang mithiin, adhikain, at gawain. Huli na nang mabatid ng isang pulis na itutumba siya ng mga kapwa pulis para pagtakpan ang kanilang karima-rimarim na negosyo at maitago ang ilang kilong shabu na milyones ang katumbas na halaga. Dalawa sa mga dorobong iyon ang nasakote, nilitis, napatunayang nagkasala’t hinatulan ng bitay. Nakalalaya ang iba pang dorobo’t tiyak na nagbebenta na ng ilang kilong shabu para magkamal ng milyones.

Hindi na kailangan ng mga dorobong iyon na magbayad ng buwis, ni ibuwis ang kanilang buhay.

Hindi lang laganap ang pandaraya sa buwis at kamatayan sa isinumpa yatang bahaging ito ng mundo. Talamak na.



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