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Death and taxes.

Imagine the criminal on his last day on earth, strapped on a gurney or on his death chair. Imagine him at that exact moment he gets the intravenous injection that would paralyze his muscles and stop his heart.

There will be foaming in his mouth and perhaps his pupils will dilate until he is dead. Imagine him dying as you watch.

Or imagine him in the time of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, dying the way the Chinese drug lord Lim Seng died early in the morning of Jan. 15, 1973 by a firing squad in Fort Bonifacio.

Tied to a pole and blindfolded, Lim met his death when a volley of gunfire from eight rifles ripped into his chest. Around 5,000 people came to watch.

Imagine some more and in your mind's eye, imagine the criminal in the time of President Duterte just as the way the President himself wants it done death by hanging. Imagine the criminal in full view of everyone.

He will die with a hangman's knot, the one which ominously has 13 twists and turns. This criminal on death row, who might he be? Imagine him as the murderer of a loved one or just about anyone you might know.

Or imagine him as the loved one himself who might or might not be guilty of his crime. Death is so dark it's almost unimaginable.

Death by capital punishment is no exception. But imagine it happening because the President wants it.

With his high popularity ratings and strong political will, I imagine the measure hurdling deliberations in Congress. President Duterte's call to reinstate capital punishment is not surprising.

After all, he did warn us that his presidency would be bloody. He has no qualms about death.

I almost want to agree with him. I say "almost" because I can't imagine losing an important person just because of a criminal's senseless act.

But I've always believed that human rights are universal and absolute. Restoring capital punishment would bring us back to the dark ages.

I also can't support the reinstatement of capital punishment in a society where our justice system is still very much flawed and that those who will decide who gets to be on death row include hoodlums in robes. Perhaps, victims of heinous crimes and their families would easily support the President's plan to bring back the death penalty.

That's understandable. The debate will be endless and there will always be two sides in this story, but as the death of Chinese drug lord Lim Seng has shown, not even death by firing squad has stopped the drug menace even during that time.

Of the many things the President blabbered about during his 4th State of the Nation Address on Monday, his calls to revive the death penalty struck me the most. Taxes

I hope Congress will not be distracted by this.

There's so much work that remains to be done. The economy needs more attention.

As I've said before, growth is still not inclusive and as a result, the income disparity in our country is still very high, almost in the leagues of some African countries. The economy needs to grow at a faster pace and for that to happen, it needs to be competitive.

In fact, the economy has slowed the last three years to 6.2 percent last year from 6.

7 percent in 2017 and 6.9 percent in 2016. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, the head of the economic team and whom I sheepishly call the English speaking Duterte, is right in reforming our tax system to make it more equitable.

Congress should, thus, act quickly on the TRABAHO bill which could really perk up the small and medium enterprises as they are expected to benefit from lower income tax. The TRABAHO bill seeks to reduce corporate income tax to 20 percent from 30 percent over a 10-year period and rationalize fiscal incentives.

I hope this would pave the way for the expansion of SMEs so they can hire more workers. Under the current corporate taxation, a select group of big businesses, many of them on the elite list of Top 1,000 corporations, pay preferred tax rates ranging from nine to 13 percent.

The rest pay 30 percent, the highest in the region. On the rationalization of fiscal incentives, Dominguez said that contrary to what the critics are saying, the plan would not eliminate incentives for investors, but would even improve them by offering other perks such as a 50 percent deduction on incremental labor costs and 50 percent deduction on purchases of local raw materials.

In the end, investors will just have to bite the bullet, but what is important is for Congress to act on the measure to remove the uncertainty. Investors don't like the waiting game.

At the same time, government should also improve the rest of the environment for business infrastructure, red tape and traffic among others. If the environment is good, investors will be in the country for the right reasons and not because we are spoiling them with tax perks.

Congress has a huge task ahead, but the clock is ticking. I hope they make use of the time well.

Iris Gonzales' email address is

Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at eyesgonzales.

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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Date:Jul 24, 2019
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