Espinoza: Coop summit against tax

Elias Espinoza

THE talk of the town for 18 days, so to speak, is the appointment of VP Leni Robredo as the anti-illegal drugs czar, her acceptance of her appointment, her meeting with the members of the inter-agency committee against drugs (ICAD) where she was received with cold shoulders, and finally on Sunday President Duterte fired her before she could lay down and implement her plans on how to combat illegal drugs with less collateral damage.

On Monday, VP Robredo asked: What are they afraid of that I would know? In response, Malacañang thru Spokesman Salvador Panelo said VP Robredo was incompetent in her job as the anti-illegal drugs czar. According to Panelo, Robredo failed to introduce new measures to address the illegal drugs problem.

President Duterte offered the Vice President on Oct. 30, 2019 the job as the anti-illegal drugs czar. She accepted the offer on Nov. 6, 2019 despite the objections of her partymates that it was a political trap.

If the offer for VP Robredo to lead the ICAD as its co-chair was, indeed, a political trap, as she was expected to fail, now that she was fired on the lame excuse that she could not be trusted and was incompetent, the question that begs the answer is: Who fell into the trap?

But there is more than meets the eye, though, on President Duterte’s firing of VP Robredo because the latter’s appointment somehow gives legitimacy to her election as the Vice President, which is still being contested by former Sen. Bongbong Marcos.

Robredo is back to her post now as the elected Vice President, but doing some menial jobs. But did she lose face? I don’t think so. In fact, she got the limelight, at least, for 18 days. Not bad, huh? On the contrary, aren’t her critics the ones that fell prey to the game of chance that she played with the administration?

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On Dec. 11, 2019, several cooperatives from all over the country will meet in Cebu City for a summit to discuss and lay out moves on how to legally counter the action of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to now tax the cooperatives, which by law are exempted.

Article 60 of the Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008 (RA 9520) provides that duly registered cooperatives that do not transact business with non-members or the general public shall not be subject to any taxes and fees under the internal revenue laws and other tax laws.

Recently, however, the BIR is making the renewal of the cooperatives’ tax exemption difficult. The BIR has asked for so many requirements that some are backbreaking to comply with. And the banks where the account of a particular coop is deposited seemed to be in cahoots with the BIR.

The law, RA 9520, that granted the cooperatives the tax exemption has not been amended or repealed yet. The hierarchy of the BIR, on its own, instructed the revenue district offices (RDO) to start the tax assessment on the big cooperatives to the detriment of the members’ welfare and benefits.

Perhaps, the arrogant BIR top guns are anticipating that the move of the Lower House to amend RA 9520 by removing the tax exemption for cooperatives would get the nod of the Senate. Sorry, but that will not happen soon because all the cooperatives are not sitting down on this issue.

The big cooperatives are leading the protest to protect the interest of cooperatives. They have called on the senators, who authored RA 9520, and those sympathetic to the welfare and interest of the cooperatives not to amend RA 9520.