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Taxation and Financing for Development

Domestic tax revenues are an essential source of financing for development. However, compared to other key development financing topics such as trade, aid, and debt, taxation has only received limited attention so far. This paper describes some of the main problems that undermine direct tax revenues in developing countries, with a focus on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations (MNCs).

Catholics Can Support the RH Bill in Good Conscience

We, individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University, call for the immediate passage of House Bill 5043 on “Reproductive Health and Population Development” (hereafter RH Bill) in Congress. After examining it in the light of Philippine social realities, and informed by our Christian faith, we have reached the conclusion that our country urgently needs a comprehensive and integrated policy on reproductive health and population development, as provided by the RH Bill. We also believe that the provisions of the bill adhere to core principles of Catholic social teaching: the sanctity of human life, the dignity of the human person, the preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, integral human development, human rights, and the primacy of conscience.

War-mongering civilians

The draft peace pact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was flawed from the start, but aborting the peace process altogether and shackling the hands of future negotiators is not the way to go. From Day One, the MILF should have known that it was negotiating with an impostor government that bore a spurious mandate (thanks to Garci) and harbored questionable motives (thanks to Charter change), and— given the public outrage and suspicions—was terribly out of touch with the pulse of the sovereign people it purported to represent.
However, the anti-ancestral domain rhetoric is getting out of hand, and we must rein in the over-zealous and over-legalistic. Let us remind ourselves of the genuine grievances that historically have pushed Islamic Filipinos to wage war. We mustn’t effectively block peace negotiations in the future just to stop the deficient Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on ancestral domain with the MILF now.

Population, Poverty, Politics and the Reproductive Health Bill

There are a few aspects of the bill to which some groups have expressed strong objections, which we can understand. Among these are whether the State should subsidize family planning by the unmarried; whether reproductive health and sex education in public schools should be compulsory, and at what grade-level it should start. Moreover, the notion of two children being the “ideal family size” (Section 13 of the RH Bill) may be difficult to defend.

But the main thrust of the bill – “enabl(ing) couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information and means to carry out their decisions” – is something we strongly and unequivocally support.

An Absolute Privilege

THREE QUESTIONS would be left unanswered should the Supreme Court refuse to budge on its March 25, 2008 ruling in the Neri v. Senate Committee case. Equally — if not more — important, however, is the final decision’s bearing on how the executive and the court would hence be dealing with questions involving presidential communications in Congressional inquiries. This is why transparency and accountability advocates are hoping that the Supreme Court will reconsider and allow the Senate to compel disclosure over the claim of executive privilege.

The Constitutional Comfort for Impunity

A constitution is nothing if not a bulwark against abuse of power by the duly constituted authority. The grandmother of all written constitutions, the Magna Charta, was a list of 63 proscriptions on the previously absolute powers of the monarchy. King John was forced by a concert of English barons armed to the teeth to sign and issue the proclamation at Runnymede in 1215 in return for their cessation of belligerence. Among the provisions imposed upon the king were the right of freemen to be judged by their own peers, the power to tax being vested on the council of the kingdom and the council of the kingdom to include barons, clergymen and burghers. Accountability was ensured by the willingness of the barons to bear arms in its defense. This made England less a regal than a legal state, one where the power of the purse and the power of adjudication are alienated from executive power. John Locke and Baron de Montesquieu were anticipated by centuries.