President Benigno S. Aquino III congratulates class valedictorian Jhon Felix Pascual Jr. of Class Tagapamagitan during the Philippine National Police Academy’s 34th Commencement Exercise at Camp Mariano N. Castaneda, Silang Cavite Friday, March 22, 2013. LYN RILLON

MANILA, MARCH 25, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Jamie Elona - President Benigno Aquino III challenged new graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy Friday to prioritize the welfare of the marginalized in the face of temptations that they may meet along their way of serving the public.

In the commencement exercises of class Tagapamagitan 2013 in Silang Cavite, Aquino noted the alleged involvement of police officers in alleged anomalies, particularly the sacking of several officials in the Caraga Region over illegal logging activities and in the Atimonan shooting incident that killed 13 people.

“Malinaw po ang batas ko bilang Commander-in-Chief at hindi optional ang pagsunod sa batas. Wala akong sisinuhin sa nagtitigas-tigasan pa rin sa ating kautusan,” the President said.

Aquino also noted “clear” operational lapses in the Atimonan incident in Quezon, saying that justice was placed in the hands of some men.

But the President said his statement was not meant to motivate negativism, but was a way of preparing the incoming officers for the challenges that they may face in their chosen profession.

Members of the graduating Class Tagapamagitan hold a parade during the Philippine National Police Academy’s 34th Commencement Excercise at Camp Mariano N. Castaneda, Silang Cavite, Frdiay, March 22, 2013. LYN RILLON

“My order to Tagapamagitan Class of 2013: Let’s not fail our boss – the Filipino people. I am hopeful that in the midst of the temptations of wealth and power, you will put the interests of the oppressed,” Aquino said in Filipino.

“More than offering protection, you will serve as intermediaries who will bring the citizenry closer to the men in uniform, the bridge that will bring peace and order in our lives and will unite every Juan dela Cruz amidst differences and conflicts in society,” he said.

In the performance of their duty, Aquino said he expected that the officers would follow what’s right and what they think would be the best for the majority.

He also asked them to be fair in the manner of how they would address problems within their agencies.

“At this juncture where you are steeped in idealism and eager to be of service, perhaps this will be easy to say ‘yes, we are ready to serve the Filipino”, Aquino said, adding that this is best measured by how they pair their words with concrete actions.

There are 252 graduates under class Tagapamagitan, 90 percent of who are set to enter the police force while the rest will be deployed with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and Bureau of Fire Protection.

Members of the graduating Class Tagapamagitan hold a parade during the Philippine National Police Academy’s 34th Commencement Excercise at Camp Mariano N. Castaneda, Silang Cavite, Frdiay, March 22, 2013. LYN RILLON

Lawyer Ruben R. Platon, president of the Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC)—the agency that administers the PNPA—said members of this year’s graduating class have adopted “Tagapamagitan,” as the name for their class which means, mediator or arbitrator, as they aim to bridge the gap between the members of law enforcement and the community.

The PPSC president also said male cadets dominated this year’s top 10 with 22-year-old cadet from Iguig, Cagayan identified as Jhon Felix Gutierrez Pascual Jr. at the number one post.

As the top graduate, Pascual received the Presidential Kampilan Award from Aquino, as well as the Chief PNP Kampilan Award from PNP Chief Alan Purisima.

Cadet Christian Palustre Javier, 25, from Masanlay, Oriental Mindoro, placed second, while cadet Davis Vicente Dulawan, 23, from Lamut, Ifugao, placed third.

Other top 10 graduates include, Cadets Mohammad Fadhad Dinampo Julwadi, 23, from Sta. Barbara, Zamboanga City (4th place); Markson Solomon Almeranez, from Sta. Mesa, Manila (5th place); Aiman Jumlani Kamlon, from Jolo, Sulu (6th place); Mark Francis Tupaz Bauya, from Abuyog, Leyte (7th place); Nino Villanueva Aquiatan from Taft, Eastern Samar (8th place); Aiman Khuzaimah Pagayawan Pantaran, from Lanao del Norte, (9th place); and ZynonAclinenPaiking, from La Trinidad, Benguet (10th place.)

Noy tax speech before Tsinoys a gentle reminder – Palace By Aurea Calica, Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 24, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - While President Aquino found it unnerving and shocking that a number of Filipino-Chinese businessmen belonging to the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. were not paying correct taxes, a Palace official described the chief executive’s move in calling FFCCCI’s attention on the matter as a mere “gentle reminder.”

The President made the call during FFCCCI’s biennial convention Friday night at the Mall of Asia, where he was invited as guest of honor and speaker.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte at first said the government, particularly the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), was not being soft on these businessmen even as the figures used by the President were culled from 2011 to 2013 records.

Valte, however, denied over radio dzRB yesterday that the government was quick to file charges against Filipinos but slow on Chinese businessmen like those from the FFCCCI.

“If you can see, among all those charged by (BIR) Commissioner (Kim) Henares, there is no discrimination. There is no such thing as being selective, as the cases with strong evidence are the only ones filed by Commissioner Henares before the DOJ,” Valte said.

She said the President took the opportunity to discuss the matter before a big audience, but it did not mean the government was acting only just now.

Asked if charges would be filed against these alleged tax cheats, Valte said there are processes to be followed.

“The President’s gentle reminder does not mean the BIR is not doing its job. We are going to review the cases filed by the BIR before the Department of Justice and those under litigation, and we can see there is no discrimination in the filing of those cases. Those were purely based on evidence,” she said in Filipino.

The Palace official refused to comment if the Filipino-Chinese businessmen were donors for the Team PNoy campaign. She said the BIR would check on all reports about people not paying taxes, including those who do not issue receipts.

In his speech, the President said he wanted to bring up a “more sensitive topic” from the report of Henares that was, to say the least, “a bit unnerving.”

“These are the facts as we understand them. Based on your own 2011 to 2013 directory, I understand that your federation includes 207 firms and organizations as members. Only 105 of these have a tax identification number. Of these 105 firms, only 54 filed tax returns. To make matters worse, 38 firms and organizations actually filed returns with zero tax due. This means that only 16 out of the 207 ‑ or only around eight percent - of your member-organizations paid taxes,” Aquino said.

The President added that of 552 FFCCCI individual members, only 424 have tax identification numbers, and only 185 of these members with TINs ‑ or almost 44 percent ‑ filed income tax returns.

“Of those that filed tax returns, 14 filed returns with zero tax due. What this means is 354 out of 552 members ‑ or 64 percent of you ‑ did not pay taxes for the same reasons: no TIN, no tax due, or nothing filed at all,” the President said, adding among those who filed and paid income taxes, a lot “paid less than P100,000” while there were some who paid less than P1,000 in taxes.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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