FEBRUARY 7, 2010 (STAR) By Ma. Elisa P. Osorio - The government has revised the draft 2010 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) by removing the contingency section which contains the employment saving mechanism, saying the crisis which threatened many economies worldwide is already over.

For the first time last year, the government decided to include a contingency plan which gives companies tax perks for keeping their employees. However, the Board of Investments (BOI) has decided to remove the contingency component on the proposed 2010 IPP because in their latest board meeting, the group said “the crisis is over.”

BOI managing head Elmer C. Hernandez said they noted reports that the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has declared the Philippines not in crisis anymore.

In a statement last November, NEDA acting director general Augusto Santos said: Indeed the global crisis is not over, but the worst is over. We have reasons to be more confident.”

Hernandez said they will make the final recommendation on the draft IPP regarding the contingency measure once they verify the NEDA reports.

There were four criteria under job saving or creation projects. First is to retain investments and maintain current number of employees. Second, retain investments and increase current number of employees. Third, increase investments and maintain current number of employees and fourth, increase investments and increase current number of employees.

Under the law, firms that will not have additional investments do not qualify for income tax holidays. However, because those were extraordinary times, the government gave additional deduction for labor expense. That brought their taxable revenues down, thus reducing tax payments to the government.

Hernandez said they will only consider applications under the contingency measure submitted last December.

Recently, the BOI granted incentives under the contingency measure to semiconductor firm Yushiko Industries. The firm will be entitled to a three-year income tax holiday (ITH) but will have to waive all other remaining incentives given to them by the government.

Hernandez said they gave the ITH to Yushiko because the semiconductor industry suffered heavily last year as orders waned due to the global financial crisis.


Unanswered questions HIDDEN AGENDA By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes (The Philippine Star) Updated February 07, 2010 12:00 AM

With about three months left before election day and uncertainties still hounding the shift to computerized counting of votes, the fact that serious questions are being raised about the credibility of some of the frontrunners in the presidential race can be disturbing.

When a big number of our voting population seems to have made up its mind on Noynoy Aquino as the country’s next president, here comes an expose on the alleged misdeeds of the Cojuangco family in relation to the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), so called skeletons in Noynoy’s closet.

The expose is good though. Those supporting Noynoy should not be voting for him out of sheer respect and love for his parents who are heroes and martyrs of this country.

While we would like to believe that Ninoy and Cory’s spirits would be there to guide him, we would also like to be convinced that he in his own right can run this country.

And because Noynoy’s campaign revolves around the fight against corruption, it is but proper that we should be convinced that allegations about his involvement in certain corrupt activities are not true.

According to the expose, Hacienda Luisita, owned by the Cojuangco family, made an P83 million killing in terms of rightof-way payment when the SCTEX Tarlac exit was made to pass the Luisita property. They say it was at a gross overprice of P100 per square meter because the zonal valuation of farmlands in the area at that time was only P6 to P8 per square meters.

This amount, it is claimed, was negotiated through a phone call from an influential member of the Cojuangco clan to a newly-enthroned President Arroyo right after EDSA 2.

They add that Hacienda Luisita benefitted immensely from the P170-million road interchange, because instead of the estate spending for the interchange’s construction, just like what Mamplasan, Asia Brewery, and Southwoods did when they interconnected to the South Luzon Expressway, the Cojuangcos got it for free.

It is said that Noynoy used his influence as a legislator and served as the proponent of the SCTEX project, even going to the extent of meddling in the project to cause its original route to be diverted to pass through Luisita unnecessarily.

From its original cost of P18.7 billion in 1999, the SCTEX project cost was adjusted to P18.7 billion in 2003, to P21 billion in 2004 and, by the time it got finished, the cost ballooned to a whopping P32.8 billion, or double the original price.

Unfortunately, the Luisita farmers hardly benefitted from the deal. They say that of the P83 million received from government, P80 million went to Luisita, and P 3.9 million went to another Cojuangco-Aquino owned corporation, the Tarlac Development Corp. (Tadeco).

It has been reported that of the 4,915 hectares covered by Luisita, farmers should be owning 33 percent of it. Under the terms and conditions of the loan agreement between the government and Cojuangco that financed the acquisition of the Luisita lands, Hacienda Luisita should have been distributed to farm workers 10 years after its acquisition in 1958.

According to reports, Jose Cojuangco Sr., father of the late President Cory and grandfather of Noynoy, bought the sugar mill Central Azucarera de Tarlac and the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac in 1957.

Cojuangco secured a loan of P5.9 million from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to buy Luisita and another loan of $2.1 million from the New York-based Manufacturer’s Trust to buy the mill from its Spanish owner Tabacalera.

The GSIS approved Cojuangco’s loan (Res. No. 3202) while the Monetary Board of the Central Bank (Res. No. 1240) also agreed to guarantee Cojuangco’s loan with Manufacturer’s Trust on the condition that in 1967, Cojuangco would allow

the farmers of Luisita to own the lands they live on, along with the lands they’ve been tilling for generations.

However, it is claimed that 1967 came and went but the lands were not given to the farmers.

The Cojuangcos, led by the widow of Jose, Demetria, held steadfast in claiming that the GSIS and Central Bank conditions were unenforceable because allegedly no one was farming Luisita when the Cojuangcos bought it.

In May 7, 1980, the government filed a case before the Manila Regional Trial Court to recover Luisita from the Cojuangcos, so it can be distributed to the farmers, as was the intent of the GSIS and CB resolutions.

The government and the Luisita farmers won the case, with the Manila RTC on Dec. 2, 1985 ordering the transfer of Luisita’s control to the Ministry of Agrarian Reform after payment to the Cojuangcos of just compensation pegged at P3.99 million.

The Cojuangcos elevated the case to the Court of Appeals.

Then came 1986 with Cory Aquino coming into power.

The government case against the Cojuangcos was withdrawn, leaving the Court of Appeals with no choice but to dismiss the case.

On June 7, 1988, then President Aquino signed into law Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform law. Along with Proclamation 131 and Executive Order 229, the new law allowed the Cojuangcos and other landowners to enter into stock option schemes with farmers instead of subdividing the lands and distributing to farmers.

It was then that Hacienda Luisita Inc. was created. Under the stock distribution option, the farmers ended up owning 33 percent of the shares, and 67 percent was retained by the Cojuangcos.

The 33-67 split was based on the valuation of the capital each party injected into HCI. The hacienda’s 4,915 hectares of arable land was valued at P197 million (P40 per hectare), while the Cojuangcos’ capital, made up of non-land assets, was valued at P394 million.

Under the stock distribution plan, the total of P118 million representing the 33.2 percent of the capital stock held by Luisita farmers was supposed to be given them over a span of 30 years.

But of the 4,915 hectares owned by HCI, only 500 hectares were left for the Luisita farmers to work due to the reclassification of 3,200 hectares from agricultural to industrial and commercial use.

Most of these allegations, except for Noynoy’s alleged meddling in the SCTEX, does not involve him personally, but his relatives. Some of them are no longer here. Some though are still alive and may soon walk the corridors of power again.

Whether these accusations are true are or just plain political mudslinging, the public deserves to know what they are getting into. That way, their votes will not be influenced by mere emotion.

After all, this country, on the verge of collapse, deserves someone who can deliver on his promise.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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