Finally …a prominent decrease in the number of firecracker casualties in this New Year celebration. TV news reports figures are down by 60%. That’s already worthy of a massive applause with standing ovation; with an anticipation for a higher grossing sequel. If there’s something I had been waiting for the President and former Davao Mayor to bring from his city governance to the national scale it is the total firecracker ban. He could leave the Davao Death Squad in his home city (which if I may add, needs some prayers considering the recent typhoon, the mall fire, the resignation of the Vice Mayor, and the coming typhoon). We’re fine with the firecracker ban. I wonder why it took a gap of one New Year season before something like Executive Order 28 could be released. Certainly, the presidential order tremendously helped in the reduction of the traditionally ridiculous causes of injury and/or death. But apparently, Mandaluyong police officers beat the firecracker fiends in that position when they fired shots action star style at a supposed criminal getaway vehicle, which turned out to be the car carrying the victim to the hospital; killing the victim and another one, last week. Now, that has got to be a grossly ridiculous and pathetic way to die. We may have been slightly spared from five-star tossing bystanders; but not from overeagerly shooting cops. Well, I guess the year end wouldn’t be complete without some sort of fiendish fireworks.
Now that the fireworks have died down as they have been soaked in rainwater, let’s try to see what’s in store in 2018. More than a year ago, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade declared that, “The Bicol International Airport (BIA) will be completed in 2018.” He further “vowed to speed up the completion of the said P4.7-billion airport in Daraga, Albay. The project accordingly is or was included in the first 10 big projects approved by the National Economic Development Authority-Investment Coordinating Committee. According to Albay Representative Joey Salceda, the airport would draw “at least five million tourists by 2025. The project is also seen to generate 235,000 jobs in the next 10 years and $1 billion in investments.” (primer.com.ph) Well, as fate would have it, almost exactly a year after Sec. Tugade gave that statement a few months ago, suspected NPA rebels burned 11 heavy equipment units at the construction site of the hopefully tourism and employment generating airfield. So, I guess, we may not see planes taking off or landing from Daraga this year.
Still on airports, last month, Vice President Robredo expressed disappointment over the DOTr not including the Naga Airport in the 2017 and 2018 budget, including a new airport that will be constructed in San Jose, Camarines Sur. (www.philstar.com) So, the improvement of the Southeast Northwest Reorientation of Naga Airport would be put off this year. However, “Camarines Sur Provincial Administrator Angel Naval “insisted that funds for the airport rehab are not lost but have been down-loaded to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and the provincial government.” “Naval added that after CAAP has completed the bidding process for contractors, a 2.4-kilometer extension work will (by early 2018) start along with a two-communal irrigation system beneath the airport runway.” “Gov. Migz Villafuerte confirmed that P400 million has been provided
by the DOTr for settlement of right-of-way claims and land acquisition payments”. (www.journal.com.ph ) Okay, so, let’s see this year.
Down on land and on the road, nextweek, DOTr will “remove jeepneys that are at least 15 years old from streets as part of the government’s transport modernization program”; (www.philstar.com ) and if the President sees an old jeepney on the road, he says in national TV news report, “guguyurin ko”. Yeah, yeah, I know Davao media have been telling national media to get used to it; but let’s see him pull an old jeepney on the road. However, legislators are saying that the program follows a three-year time frame, so it’s going to take some time. So, what’s all the excitement about? This is a chaotic scene to look forward to this year. If government pushes through with the ban and the new models are not ready, this is a good opportunity for tricycles and multicabs, and for some walking.
I’ve been hearing government people (including the President) on TV say that the Tax Reform Law is their biggest gift to the Filipino people in 2017. Supposedly, it will cause (among others) lower personal income tax, higher taxes on diesel, petroleum, and other oil products, and additional tax of around P10.00 per liter for drinks containing sugar such as powdered juice, energy drinks, soft drinks, bottled iced tea, and other sugary beverages. (https://www.pinoymoneytalk.com) Okay, let’s go over that. The lower income tax will give me some extra cash, which I would spend on the more expensive petroleum products and the most common comfort of sipping softdrinks. At least, they spared the straw. Let’s see how that will go this year. Maybe we’ll have smaller soda bottles.
Happy New Year.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”