NAME THAT BET

Greco Belgica: Youngest bet vows change to flat tax

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BELGICA unexpectedly found real joy in the word of God. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Greco Belgica was elected to the Manila City Council in 2004. He was 26 and he enjoyed wielding power and influence.

But when he lost his bid for reelection in the city’s sixth district in 2007, he learned the bitter realities of politics, including the reported betrayal by friends in the name of political survival.

“It was a surprising lost because I was a very popular city councilor then. I actually wanted to run for vice mayor, but I lost the party convention,” Belgica, who describes himself as a member of the “original Liberal Party” wing of former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, said in an interview with the Inquirer.

“I was one of the boys then. But infighting in our party led to our defeat in that election,” he said.

Dejected, Belgica stayed away from politics and went into international trading and construction. He also got married and started a family of his own.

Then he found what he called his “real happiness,” which he said came to his life unexpectedly—becoming a pastor in the Christian ministry founded by his father, Grepor “Butch” Belgica, a murder convict turned evangelist.

“I realized that money, power and position never made me happy and satisfied,” Belgica said. “I realized that the joy and satisfaction I was looking for were in the word of God, in prayer and in serving Him. That changed me.”

He said there had been several invitations for him to return to politics, but he rejected them all. But he said his experiences as an elder in the Lord’s Vineyard Covenant Community convinced him to try his hands in politics again.

“Being a minister, I realized that the life of people in power was very different from the life of ordinary citizens. Those in power do not obey the law. We also have laws that are not consistent with the law of God,” he said.

In October last year, he gave in to friends and supporters who had been prodding him to run for a seat in the Senate.

Now 34 and father of two, Belgica prides himself on being the youngest among the 33 candidates courting more than 52 million voters for one of the 12 senatorial seats at stake in May’s midterm elections.

“I’m actually the same age when Ninoy Aquino became senator [in 1967],” he said, referring to the father of President Aquino.

Belgica believes his youth, idealism, faith and strong belief in the free market system will propel him to the Senate, duplicating Ninoy Aquino’s feat as the youngest politician to be elected senator.

Ninoy Aquino’s assassination in 1983 served as the catalyst for the Edsa People Power Revolution that toppled the Marcos regime three years later.

Flat tax

Belgica wants to start a different kind of revolution in the Philippines. He admits it’s a bit  radical, but he believes it’s more realistic, palatable and appealing to most Filipinos: A flat-rate tax to replace the current progressive tax system.

According to Belgica, the current tax system deprives Filipinos of their dreams of a better life. If elected, he said, he would fight for legislation that would mandate a tax of no more than 10 percent of the salaries of employees and the net income of private businesses.

“One of my advocacies is to abolish all current taxes, including the e-VAT (expanded value-added tax) and the RPT (real property tax), and replace them with a 10-percent flat-rate system,” Belgica said.

He said 43 developed nations all over the world, among them Russia, Singapore, China and Hong Kong, had adopted such a tax system, resulting in improved economic conditions for their citizens.

Belgica, who has a degree in marketing and management from San Beda College and another in international trade and commerce from the University of California, said reducing taxes would result in an increase in the take-home pay and purchasing power of ordinary workers and in the net income of businesses.

Such a tax climate will attract more investments, both local and foreign, resulting in faster economic development for the Philippines, he said.

It would also help resolve the perennial problem of unemployment in the country, “as experienced by nations with a flat tax system,” he said.

“If we go into a flat tax system, the prices of basic commodities like gasoline, electricity and food will go down. We will be the tax haven of the world, inviting more investments here,” he said.

Asked how he would pursue the idea in a Senate dominated by lawmakers with contrasting business interests, he replied: “I would strongly fight for it. I would use the Senate floor, the media and social networks like Twitter to fight for it.”

Like many young Filipinos his age, Belgica believes in the power of the Internet in advancing his advocacies and challenging the antiquated leadership style of “traditional politicians.”

“I will come out in the media and in social media networks to remind the people that this is the platform I carried when they voted for me. Then I will tell them the names of the senators who do not want to bring down taxes,” he said.

“[T]he people will clamor for it. Who doesn’t want lower taxes? The people will be hitting them in the media and Twitter. I will convince them (senators) to fight for the interest of the people,” he said.

Remember Recto?

“Remember one man was able to increase the tax imposed on us through the e-VAT. Then one man will also be able to bring down the taxes. That will be me. It’s not impossible to reduce the taxes,” Belgica said, referring to Sen. Ralph Recto, who lost his reelection bid in 2007 for sponsoring the e-VAT law.

Recto was also publicly criticized recently for his version of the sin tax law, which would have led to less tax revenue for the government compared with the version proposed by the Aquino administration.

Belgica said he would also push for the distribution of public land to all Filipinos for free.

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Pio Pusli

    phuuuuutttttttttt!!!!!! what a waste, bumalik ka na sa kangkungan. i’m sure doon ka galling.

    • HENYO TAGAPULOTNGBASURA

      madalas kung cnu pa galing kangkungan sya pa napagkkatiwalaan at maasahan, kumpara sa mga ibang nanalo sa senado, walang iba ginawa kungdi ang magpataw at magdagdag pa ng kung anu anung DAGDAG buwis para dumami pera nila sa gobyerno at bulsa nila, nkalimutan na nila NA HIRAP NA HIRAP NA ang mga malilit na tao at malilit na negosyante na lalo lang nahihirapan sa buhay.. BELGICA pang sampu ka sa boto ko sa senado

    • patrickinca

      Sabihin mo rin iyan sa mga amo mo sa UNA na puro mga magnanakaw at walang konsensya.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GYYFBINDMTZHM6TDHPB667452M agustin

    Yes to the independent candidates. NO to UNA and TEAM Pnoy.they composed of trapos, celebrities,and dynasties who made our country poor.

    • BASILANNN

      can you get 10 people to vote for this young fellow? consequently, ask this 10 to find 10 for each…..and so forth. may be, yes may be, we can have change.

  • Love God

    Young mind. Progressive thinking. Being close to God make him corrupt free.

    What is lacking are:

    No dynasty name
    Not a celebrity

    Will the Filipino electorate give him a chance to make the reforms he has in mind?
    I will definitely vote for him.
    I am sick and tired of the recycled trapos.
    We need new faces in our congress for a corrupt free Philippines!

    • koolkid_inthehouse

      I like to try his style.

      • BASILANNN

        he is good. one of his inconsistencies is him being a LIBERAL. LIBERALISM is for higher taxes. calling for a flat tax of 10% is CONSERVATISM. LIBERALISM is anything against CONSERVATISM.

        COnSERVATISM calls for lower taxes thereby increasing actual take home pay. LIBERALISM calls for higher taxes, thereby decreasing actual take home pay.

        him being a man of God is CONSERVSTISM. him claiming to be a liberal is anti-conservatism.

        ill vote for him for sure….and hope to get clarification on his actual POLITICAL color.

      • koolkid_inthehouse

        it should be balance. you cannot run a government with less money or you cannot improve the economy with overtax businesses.
        You raise specific tax to finance related project. You lower tax on certain product or business for example to encourage foreign investment.
        Flat tax is easy but its not that efficient to balance the budget for example. Flat rate is more communist style, we are a capitalist country.

    • Ronilo Yap

      Let us go for it. Huwag lang ibaba yong tax sa segarilyo at alak.

    • Josef Paul

      Sadly, there are still gullible folks like you who believe that Greco is close to God. We should be more discerning. The guy pretends to be holy. You should ask then Congressman Rudy Bacani how Greco ran away with the money and screwed up Bacani’s daughter. The more people profess their closeness in GOD, the more dangerous the person is. Remember our Pastor Eddie Villanueva? He made us believe that GOD whispered to him to run for president, but lost not once but twice. He even converted Manny Pacman in our fold in order to get funding from his senatorial bid this 2013. Liars. Stop using God’s name in gain and for personal gain please. If the character is shady and flawed and if he has screwed someone even if he has a good platform (and alleged God fearing), that person doesn’t deserve an iota of chance. As Ray Davies said, “Money and corruption are ruining the land, crooked politicians betray the working man, pocketing the profits and treating us like sheep, and we’re tired of hearing promises that we know they’ll never keep.”

  • koolkid_inthehouse

    Easy to say but where are you going to get cash to fill up the lost revenues? Are you going to cut government services and employees?
    Which government lands are you going to distribute for free? The mountainsides and turn it into a disastrous kaingin? Politicians are always saying nice to hear promises but not a detailed plan.

    • patawad

      Tama. Sa ibang bansa ang plataporma ay may detalye, kasama ang costing, at audited pa, bago isapubliko para sa kaalaman ng mga botante bago bumoto. Sana ganyan din sa Pinas.

  • https://me.yahoo.com/a/DWRHqlNoppBOATBbtwpQkaAEQdMOmejmkPJb#24a25 jeff

    We should consider voting for the candidates who understand and work for the reduction of the tax burdens of salary/wage earners. Never mind those tongressmen and senatongs who do not even pay taxes on their SOP’s derived from their pork barrels.

    The minimum wage now in NCR is approximately 130,000 per year, or 10,000 per month, 400 per day; but the tax table being used is not updated.

    Tax Rate for Individuals Earning Purely Compensation Income and Individuals Engaged in Business and Practice of Profession

    Amount of Net Taxable Income Rate

    Over But Not Over

    P10,000 5%
    P10,000 P30,000 P500 + 10% of the Excess over P10,000
    P30,000 P70,000 P2,500 + 15% of the Excess over P30,000
    P70,000 P140,000 P8,500 + 20% of the Excess over P70,000
    P140,000 P250,000 P22,500 + 25% of the Excess over P140,000
    P250,000 P500,000 P50,000 + 30% of the Excess over P250,000
    P500,000 P125,000 + 32% of the Excess over P500,000

  • Manuel_II

    Paid Political Ads, I wonder how much he paid for this story to be publish. LMAO. Marlon Ramos is 6 digit richer by now, LOL

  • Dancing Bear

    God centric candidate? But if he was Catholic everybody would be up in arms. Even religious convictions must be taken out of the halls of politics.

  • eigendik

    flat tax… sounds like Schwarzenegger when he ran for Governor of California… Talk is cheap. Where will he get the money to ran the country, especially the pork barrel. Should I believe you?

  • JosengSisiw1

    We can gamble? Let’s vote anyone that’s, new better than voting people who are well known corrupt and part of dynasty….at least we may hit one or two that can help clean up our government…

  • iping2sison

    I will vote for you. The flat/final tax rate on gross revenue is more equitable than the current tax system. All businessmen have been batting for this system ever since, but unscrupulous lawmakers instead borrowed the American system. God bless you.

  • malek_abdul

    This man is promising the moon and the stars…

    “Belgica said he would also push for the distribution of public land to all Filipinos for free.”

    … but I will VOTE FOR HIM for a change.

    • sanjuan683

      Siyempre naman kailangan natin bago mukha sa senado iboto natin ang mga independent para maging ganap na bagong mukha. Huag na natin tangkilikin ang mga trapos tulad ng Team Abnoy at Team Nognog.

    • BASILANNN

      what public lands? agrarian reform does not work. it did not work. it will never work period. enough already of this COMMUNISM mantra of agrarianism.

  • sanjuan683

    Number One sa akin si Greco at mga independent. Ayoko sa mga trapos tulad ng Team Abnoy at Team Nognog mga trapos ang mga yan.

  • Janch

    Quixotic.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4C2SFYIH52Y2KR7QPZPHJO2XQQ sl1

    This guy is pretending to know everything ..he thinks that solving problem is as easy as ABC just to portrait himself as knowledgeable on issues to win voters support, but don’t be fooled by his stories. He said “I realized that money, power and position never made me happy and satisfied,” I realized that the joy and satisfaction I was looking for were in the word of God, in prayer and in serving Him. That changed me.” How come you are entering politics?

  • sanjuan683

    Yan ang kandidato mayroon plataporma, di tulad ni Koko lumber ang plataporma
    niya ay “DINAYA AKO”. Nakakahiya huag ninyo iboto yan sigurado walang gagawin matino sa tao.

  • http://www.yahoo.com/ Jose Paman

    Sir Belgica, promise that you will bring down education fee and health cost and for sure you will win!!!!!

    • BASILANNN

      dont just promise….but be serious about delivering these promises. FLAT TAX rate is the answer, coupled with reigning in govt. waste and efficient TAX collection.

  • Josef Paul

    Don’t pretend to be holy. Sadly, a lot are believing drama. You should ask then Congressman Rudy Bacani how Greco ran away with the money and screwed up Bacani’s daughter. The more people profess their closeness in GOD, the more dangerous the person is. Remember our Pastor Eddie Villanueva? He made us believe that GOD whispered to him to run for president, but lost not once but twice. He even converted Manny Pacman in our fold in order to get funding from his senatorial bid this 2013. Liars. Stop using God’s name in gain and for personal gain please.

    • Ronilo Yap

      Yon lang, baka ginagamit lang ang ngalan ng Diyos. Pero may plataforma siya. Sayang naman kung di pagbibigyan.

      • Josef Paul

        If the character is shady and flawed and if he has screwed someone even if he has a good platform (and alleged God fearing), that person doesn’t deserve an iota of chance. As Ray Davies said, “Money and corruption are ruining the land, crooked politicians betray the working man, pocketing the profits and treating us like sheep, and we’re tired of hearing promises that we know they’ll never keep.

    • patawad

      I watched that Eddie Villanueva being interviewed one morning and there is something sus about him. Why did he not answer straight to the point what he does with the money collected by them, and he seem not able to look straight into the eyes of that lady when he gave his answers. In other words, he was evasive. Nakupo, boto nyo na lahat wag lang to.

    • BASILANNN

      agree. the more one barks about his faith, the fainter he/she meows inside about real FAITH. FAITH in a higher being should have outright manifestations.

  • Javaman

    If a new politician will be elected the bigger budget the government will spend since he will become a corrupt though the years. Nasa system na ang corruption this guy will become the worst soon. All politician will promise the moon and the stars to be elected however they are only human being with a price tag so if your price tag and price is arbitrary.

    • superpilipinas

      buti yung bago….haka-haka mo lang kung corrupt o hindi…..yung luma….alam na nating corrupt at walang nagagawa para sa Pilipinas!

  • HENYO TAGAPULOTNGBASURA

    ..madalas kung cnu pa galing kangkungan sya pa napagkkatiwalaan at maasahan, kumpara sa mga ibang nanalo sa senado, walang iba ginawa kungdi ang magpataw at magdagdag pa ng kung anu anung DAGDAG buwis para dumami pera nila sa gobyerno at bulsa nila, nkalimutan na nila NA HIRAP NA HIRAP NA ang mga malilit na tao at malilit na negosyante na lalo lang nahihirapan sa buhay.. BELGICA pang sampu ka sa boto ko sa senado

  • http://twitter.com/gfarishta gibreel farishta

    paid advertisement disguised as opinion.. marlon ramos, how much have we got? :D

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EXFI4EUGM23PQ4FMQKLVH36OXI Jose

    I’d like a flat tax, but fiscally I just don’t think it’s workable.

    • BASILANNN

      it is workable. lowering the tax rate proves to bring in more revenue. lower the tax rate and lower the govt. waste.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EXFI4EUGM23PQ4FMQKLVH36OXI Jose

        Lowering the tax rate won’t bring in more revenue unless there’s enough of an increase in business, or it spurs enough tax evaders to start paying taxes. Given the tax rates he’s proposing I somehow doubt either of those is achievable.

        And reducing government waste would obviously be nice, but that’s easier said than done, sadly.

  • Ronilo Yap

    na experience na natin ang mga SENAUNANG mga senador. Let new faces try their dreams.

    • superpilipinas

      Agree.

  • superpilipinas

    question is…what’s his stand on the burning issues of today?

    example: does he want to prioritize FOI or not?
    does he agree to political dynasty and patronage politics?

  • BOYPDAF

    I doubt It Mr. Belgica..u said u were being offered to run in Local Politics,but u decline it because ur happy serving God and found real happiness,but when u were pushed to run in Senate,u run?People who are in Power dont obey the law,ur in Power before as a councilor..i must say u somehow didnt obey some laws too…Free land distribution?come on??anu yan mga lupa sa Paso?

  • ryan andres

    I hope this guy stays true to his platform. More power to you man.

  • berdengleon

    remember bingbong crisologo? his constituents are clueless, dumping all their tax money in the casinos, bullies people as if he owns them..and he says he preaches the word of god..what a bullcrap! he should be ashamed of himself, but most specially all you voters who placed him there, wake up folks…

  • http://twitter.com/bigg_dawg big dawg

    daming negative comments below kesyo ganito kesyo ganun. yan ang mahirap sating mga pinoy eh, we’re all political experts, we’re good in choosing politicians who keep on screwing us. it’s either vote for him, or don’t vote for him. period

  • Spidekick

    Ideas and platforms such as Mr Belgica’s are more potent if they are shared by a group in what we would call a political or ideological party. Otherwise, they are rendered useless.

    Unless a band of citizens with the same structured ideologies and political or governmental platforms come together and push for their ideals, change will never occur and candidates such as Greco will not succeed.

    Greco should first organize a critical mass, founded under the ideas that he espouses, then develop together a solid political platform and vision for the country.

    Yes, we can vote for him. But will he win?

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