Merry Christmas, Pilipinas!
Today is a time for peace, joy, happiness, hope, prosperity and sharing. Let us reflect on the birth of our Lord together with our family and loved ones.
There is a lot to be thankful for. First, the year 2018 may have had its ups and downs but we are still here.
Second, Merry Christmas to the 99 percent of our employed kababayans — from minimum wage workers to the middle class — who ended up with higher savings and bonuses this year due to lower income taxes (from 32 percent to 20 percent). Computed tax-free for those receiving P250,000 a year, or P20,833 monthly, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law brought an annual windfall of P93,353 to these employees after government taxes were removed from the 13th month pay and bonus.
Thanks to this “wholesale tax exemption,” we can save up for the future.
Third, we must also be thankful for improved peace and order in our communities. I just wish that every barangay can have closed-circuit television cameras with facial recognition for basic crime prevention.
We are happy over statistics showing that crime index is 21 percent lower from two years ago. More criminals die today unlike before when innocent victims are killed in the streets and even inside their homes.
Gone are the days when neighborhood toughies, loitering drug addicts and half-naked and boisterous drunkards terrorized people. Also gone are the “pakawala boys” of corrupt cops who robbed or even killed people just for fun.
Fourth, the public is becoming more and more vigilant against crime and corruption. They use social media to publish wrongdoings by government officials or private citizens. The recent Ateneo bullying incident is one example of our highly responsive “citizen vigilance.” Let’s keep this going.
Fifth, foreign direct investments this year improved to P907 billion, or a 47.1-percent increase, against P616.8 billion in 2017. This new money means more jobs for the general public. Our per capita gross domestic product of $2,891 in 2017 is projected to reach $3,541 before the year-end. This would result in an increase in people’s “purchasing power.”
Sixth, free health services are also expanded with funding from Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office targeting indigent patients in Malasakit Centers nationwide. Passports are now effective for 10 years, while drivers licenses are good for five years. There are no more fixers at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Land Transportation Office and other government agencies.
Let us pray for our beloved Philippines. And let’s practice what Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray said: “Let’s not spread negativity.”
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