Press Release
March 7, 2006


Senator Mar Roxas called on the government to use its iron fist against smugglers and corrupt officials rather than to curtail press freedom and other civil liberties.

The senator said the Arroyo administration should employ the same aggressive drive it had displayed during the state of national emergency to the attainment of concrete goals it had set in the fight against poverty.

According to the senator, the lifting of Proclamation 1017 does not remove threats to press freedom since the administration continues to monitor the media. He noted that charges have been filed against the newspaper publisher and two columnists of the Daily Tribune.

While we appreciate the recent arrest of a suspected big-time smuggler, this is just one arrest among a long, long list of notorious smugglers who continue to sabotage the economy, Senator Roxas pointed out.

He said local businessmen and organized labor have long been complaining about the governments ineffective campaign against smuggling and corruption.

Senator Roxas, chair of the committees of trade and commerce and economic affairs, said about P175 billion in revenues is lost every year due to technical smuggling.

Technical smuggling is the non-payment of correct duties and taxes. It may be done by undervaluation, misdeclaration, and misclassification.

Unfortunately, this has become a ningas cogon campaign. Once the media exposure wanes, the anti-smuggling drive again shifts to low gear. This is lamentable considering that if revenue losses due to corruption and smuggling are added up and collected, we dont even need to impose higher taxes, the senator stressed.

He noted the enormous energy and time allotted by the Philippine National Police in monitoring and guarding media establishments while Proclamation 1017 was still in effect.

During the past week, the DOJ was also very vocal about filing charges against personalities said to be involved in lawlessness or acts of rebellion against the state.

A strong republic is not a bully that will intimidate its own citizens but a balancer of the inequities that most people experience, he stressed.

He said the government should also work for the translation of gains in the financial sector into the real economy thus resulting in lower price of basic goods and lower interest rates on consumer and business loans.

The economic indicators are good, but they are meaningless if not translated into tangible benefits to the lives of our people.

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