Exempting medicine from VAT

"This is a real shot in the arm. "


We hail the Duterte administration for implementing the value-added tax exemption on medication for diabetics, patients with hypertension and high cholesterol. VAT exemption means for me, a diabetic, a lot of savings on medical expenses. The Bureau of Internal Revenue has warned drug stores to implement the exemption or face sanctions such as fine and imprisonment of at least six months. To get around the non-exemption of VAT, some drug stores do not issue receipts. The BIR warned that this is a more serious offense.

For us with long-term medical ailment, this is a shot in the arm that will enable us to spend money on other essentials like food, utility rate and transportation. We need to spend more on transportation because of the TRAIN Law that imposes the stiff excise tax on fuel like gasoline and diesel.

Meanwhile, the word war between the Church and the Palace has gotten worse. After his recent attack on the clergy, Church officials dared President Rodrigo Duterte to walk on the street alone without his security escorts. Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo dismissed the challenge to Digong saying the President was elected by the people to lead the country and will not allow himself to be vulnerable to assassins. In a way, Panelo conceded that indeed there are people who want to see the early demise of Duterte.

We want to see the President serve his full six-year term. But perhaps in order not to stoke the flame of hatred, the President should mellow his words against the Church, women and political foes. Otherwise, the legacy he will leave in his presidency would only be acrimony best remembered for his acerbic epithet-laced statements.

President Duterte can be credited for his relentless, albeit brutal, war on illegal drugs. But this has been overshadowed by the number of alleged extrajudicial killings of suspects that have drawn flak from local and international human rights groups. There is a running suspicion that the killed suspects were runners of the police themselves who do not want to be exposed by the minor players. The other day, the President summoned to Malacañang three police officials suspected of being protectors of drug syndicates. We don’t know the truth about this report but can only assume that the President, with all available resources in his control, had the information on the police officials.

On the international front, Europe’s three big Ms—British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel—are at the crossroads of their political lives. May is facing a no-confidence vote in parliament after the resounding defeat of her Brexit deal. Brexit is Britain’s plan to leave the European Union. This has been approved in a plebiscite but later discovered by the Brits to have a big fallout on their daily lives. Foremost of these downsides is Brexit’s effect on UK trade with the rest of EU. This includes trade with nearby Ireland, a former part of the United Kingdom. 

There is also now a concern that Scotland might break away from the UK.

Macron, on the other hand, is besieged with protests now on its third week in France. The protests have shown no indication of abating. The French-wide protests were spiked by the high tax on fuel which had a ripple effect on the cost living.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Merkel, on her last term at the helm of Germany, is best remembered for bringing reunified Germany into the great heights of economic prosperity. Whether someone else could continue her great performance remains to be seem. Merkel is from East Germany but was able to consolidate West and East into one prosperous nation.

Right now with the European Union facing several challenges, including President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would withdraw the US from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the EU will be weakened in the face of Russia’s expansionist move.

Turkey, which is a member of NATO, is also concerned that Trump’s withdrawal from the Syrian conflict would leave Turkish forces vulnerable to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his Russian allies.

Trump’s two actions on NATO and Syria have been met with disbelief by his own defense and diplomatic officials who think this is sending the wrong signal to US allies in Europe and Asia.

Here in the Philippines, skeptics are asking: How deep is the US commitment to defend the country against foreign attack in light of China’s aggression in the area and the South China Sea?

Again, here in the Philippines, the excise tax on fuel so far has not triggered street protests like in France. This is because the Duterte administation is softening its impact by applying palliative measures like cost of living allowances to the poor, raising the minimum wage of workers and increasing the Social Security System benefits to retirees.

How this nation will survive the struggle for a better life depends on whom we vote for in the May 13 mid-term elections this year. Will they be the same scoundrels or the do-nothing officials? It all depends on the voters. 

Topics: Alejandro del Rosario , VAT exemption , medicine
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