By Elinando B. Cinco
We were in second year high school, young boys of 14 years old, when the American Franciscan fathers of Pulaski, Wisconsin, took over administration of the old Colegio de San Vicente de Paul and renamed it Christ the King College in 1954.
Installed as rector was a young Franciscan priest, David Wyrskowski. At that time, he was maybe in his early 40s, 5’10” in height, medium-built, 145 lbs.
We, young boys, immediately noticed that the American friar had a stern face, was unsmiling most of the time and talked like a US Army colonel giving pep talk to dour-faced recruits.
As a seminarian in a Wisconsin diocese. Fr. David played Canadian football. In one lumbering play, we watched him throw the oval ball to a distance of reached 100 meters!
One early morning after the usual Lord’s Prayer and flag raising ceremony, in a getting-to-know-you address to the student body, we recalled his opening lines, thus:
“I’m sure you are all here in school because you want to improve your thinking prowess, and in some ways, your meditation to the Almighty.
“When you think you’re doing something which is a result of your intelligence, and that act of thinking will help you be in the correct track of education, I want you all to know to think before talking, be it in class or to your parents and community,” he stressed.
Why am I recalling those wise words of the good Father David uttered 63 years ago?
It is because President Duterte was quoted by the Manila Bulletin’s issue of October 29, 2017, as having likened his newly appointed presidential spokesman, former congressman Harry Roque, as one who talks and thinks like him.
“He is fit to be my spokesperson as we have similar characteristic of having a playful mouth,” Mr. Duterte said beaming.
That was just a one-sentence simile but the President is known to spew a mouthful, more so when he is angry, and does it obviously, without thinking. Like when he said that a lady official of AMLA was a mistress of a former congressman of Davao, but quickly corrected himself – “Ah, kay Trillanes pala!”
And in one occasion, also in a fit of anger, he vented his ire on “that chairman of ABS-CBN, Gabby Concepcion!” (He meant was Gabby Lopez.)
Fence-sitters are now asking, “Will the fast-talking, now Secretary Harry succumb to the lure of “playful mouth” of the Chief Executive?
Last Monday, I was told that some TV gag writers are already anticipating the President to introduce in a Cabinet meeting his new spokesman as “Harry Houdini.”
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Smuggling causes huge revenue losses. In a span of five years, the Philippines has lost billions of pesos due to smuggling of products in just eight industries.
A recent study by the University of Asia and the Pacific Center for Research and Communication Foundation, Inc., and the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) reveals that from 2011 to 2015, the government lost an estimated P111 billion in revenues from the smuggling of petroleum, steel, resins, wood, cigarettes, sugar, palm oil, and automotive batteries worth more than P904 billion.
Citing a UN Trademap, the study identified China, USA, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore as the top five partner-countries which the Philippines engages for imports.
Aside from the revenue loss, smuggling has also lowered the Gross Domestic Product by P495.5 billion, household income by P77.2 billion, and displaced 291,070 workers in the above-mentioned industries within the five-year period.
Smuggling also affects the delivery of basic services as the government relies on tax collections to finance its various infrastructure and social development programs nationwide.
President Rodrigo Duterte has certified House Bill 5636, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill as urgent. The bill is the government’s proposed tax-reform package which lowers personal income tax rates and expands the VAT base by imposing excise taxes on commodities such as sugar-sweetened beverages and petroleum products.
A number of business sectors, including sari-sari store owners, have opposed the TRAIN bill for being “anti-poor” as it is expected to increase prices of beverage products commonly sold in community stores.