Archive for June, 2012

House passes bill exempting from estate taxes the unpaid just compensation to original landowners

The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading House Bill 6093 seeking to exempt from estate taxes the unpaid balance of just compensation due the original landowners or their descendants whose agricultural lands were acquired by the government under certain agrarian reform laws or orders.

The bill principally authored by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) seeks to exempt from the decedent owner or his or her legal heirs or successors in interest of agricultural land acquired by the government under Presidential Decree 27, Executive Order 22, EO 229, Republic Act 6657 and R.A. 9700, amending for the purpose Section 87 of the National Internal Revenue Code, 1997, as amended.

Presidential Decree 27 decrees the emancipation of tenants from the bondage of the soil, transferring to them the ownership of the land they till and providing the instruments and mechanism therefor; Executive Order 228 declares full land ownership to qualified farmer beneficiaries covered by PD 27, determines the value of remaining unvalued rice and corn lands subject to PD 27, and provides for the manner of payment by the farmer beneficiary and mode of compensation to the landowner; Executive Order 229 provides the mechanisms for the implementation of the comprehensive agrarian reform program; Republic Act 6657 is otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988; and, RA 9700, is An Act Strengthening the CARP Program, Extending the Acquisition and Distribution of  All Agricultural Lands, Instituting Necessary Reforms, Amending for the Purpose Certain Provisions of RA 6657 or the CARL, as Amended, and Appropriating Funds Therefor.

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City), principal author of HB 6093, said agrarian reform has affected the rights of countless landowners whose lands were taken some 38 years ago with the advent of PD 27.

After the lapse of the 15 year payment period provided by PD 27, countless original landowners and their descendants still await full payment of just compensation according to him. “The years passed brought about many changes and amendments in the laws and orders relative to land valuation and payment procedures which have affected and made it more difficult to collect the just compensation due to the landowners,’ he said.

Rodriguez said the payment of just compensation has also been delayed because of administrative matters, documentation requirements as well as valuation issues that plague the government agencies involved.

To make matters worse for these landowners, he said the payments as just compensation that they are to receive are still charged estate taxes, which at times exceed the amount of compensation offered for their properties.

“Many of these landowners already passed away without receiving just compensation leaving their descendants the tasks of awaiting payment only to discover that they still have to pay estate taxes,” said
Rodriguez.

He said while the transfer of agricultural property taken by the government for land reform purposes is already exempted from the payment of capital gains taxes, there is likewise a compelling necessity to exempt the same from estate taxes should the original landowner die without being paid just compensation.

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Lawmakers want Arab diplomat to pay for his crime against two Filipino women

Lawmakers do not want a United Arab Emirates ambassador who was accused of sexual harassment in the Philippines to go scot-free.

In House Resolution 2361, Reps. Angelo Palmones (Party-list, Agham) and Emmi de Jesus (Party-list, Gabriela) have called for a  congressional inquiry into the sexual harassment case against UAE Ambassador to the Philippines Moosa Abdulwahid Alkhajah.

Palmones and De Jesus also declared the diplomat as “persona non grata” and demanded that he be expelled from the country.

The lawmakers issued their call despite the UAE embassy calling the sexual harassment allegations against the diplomat false and baseless.

Palmones said Alkhajah had used his position as a diplomat to abuse the two Filipino women. “This is an insult to the rights of Filipino women,” he added.

The victims who were only identified as “Cherry” and “Liza,” have claimed that the ambassador forced them to give him a body massage and faced them almost naked.

De Jesus said one of the women claimed Alkhajah also wanted to have sex with her.

“The two women resigned after repeatedly rejecting his advances, and incurring Alkhajah’s anger. They initially responded to his lewd requests, including nearly-nude body massages, which they recounted to Filipinos at the UAE Embassy,” Dr Jesus said.

De Jesus added that at least one of the Filipinos at the embassy was fired when Alkhajah became aware of the allegations.

De Jesus said if the Philippine government fails to intervene in the case of the two domestic helpers, “there can be little hope for Filipino domestic women working abroad to be respected and treated fairly in their host countries.”

Gov. Cagas backs Tampakan copper-gold project in Davao del Sur

Davao del Sur governor Douglas Cagas has raised concerns over the delays besetting the Tampakan copper-gold project, the biggest investment to reach his province so far.

“I am concerned about the delays to the project with the national government discussing policy and profit-sharing changes governing mining”, Cagas said.

Davao del Sur has a lot of stakes with the proposed $ 5.9 billion mining project since the mine’s main infrastructures, including a concentrator, a fresh water dam, and a waste rock storage facility, will be constructed in the province, resulting in potential billions of revenue in terms of property and operational taxes.

Cagas has publicly declared support behind the Tampakan mining project.

“For as long as Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI), the government contractor for the Tampakan project, remains committed to their promise of responsible mining, I am for this project”, he said.

Cagas, however, also said that he understands why the national government is seen as “being cautious” with this project.

But Cagas said that the national government should reconsider its position and finally “push the go button” for the Tampakan project.

“The national government recently pronounced that a responsible mining industry is one of our best hopes economically and that is a positive sign for the Tampakan project,” Cagas said.

“I am confident that President Aquino knows that this project is good for the country’s economy”, Cagas said.

Asked about the provincial ban on open pit mining affecting the Tampakan project, Cagas said that as a lawyer he knew that a provincial ordinance could never prevail over a national law.

DAR personnel hone writing skills

DAVAO CITY – The provincial office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Davao del Sur conducted a three-day seminar on News, Feature and Project Proposal and Technical Writeshop that started Monday at the Crown Regency Hotel along Cabaguio Avenue here.

Some 45 DAR employees participated in the training, most of whom are development facilitators of the seven municipal offices in Davao del Sur.

“We would like to reach out more to the public and be heard in any way we can,” said Wilson Antiga, the provincial agrarian reform officer, during the opening program.

Antiga also said that the activity is geared towards increasing public awareness on the process of the implementation of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in the province through the adoption of the public relations, information and social marketing strategy that utilize the influence of the tri-media to inform its stakeholders on what the department is doing.

“There are a lot of inspiring stories that are happening to our farmer-beneficiaries, success stories that are begging to be told. There are also projects implemented that helped improved agriculture production and these are the stories we wanted to be heard,” he said.

Among the resource speakers is Edfer Fernandez, book author, journalist, educator and development worker, who emphasized the use of simple, accurate and precise words to write news or feature stories.

“You don’t have to use unfamiliar words to brag about your stories. What is important is for you to be easily understood,” Fernandez said. (Yads Geyrozaga-PIO)

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