“Read on and weep.”
Presidential candidates all talk about the billions of pesos being allegedly stolen from public funds and their determination to stop the plunder.
What they do not realize is that it is not the stolen billions upon billions of pesos that directly affect the ordinary taxpayer but the petty graft that accompanies almost every government transaction.
Read on and weep.
When an ordinary citizen needs something from the government, or if he gets into trouble, be it as a crime victim or for any other unfortunate incident, he should be prepared to pay some amount of money for matrikula or tuition.
Why tuition? Because that is the amount he has to pay for his “education.”
Let us take the owner of a structure that got burned. You think he will get a fast and accurate investigation report from the fire department without paying “matrikula?” If tuition were not paid, the poor fire victim might end up being charged with arson.
Victims of burglaries and other petty crimes who report to the police are on the same boat. Many times, the policeman assigned to the case will complain about not having the bond paper for writing the reports, gasoline for follow up operations, etc… The common quote from all of them is: Walang ini-isyu sa amin. Kami ang gumagasta para sa kailangan sa trabaho. In short, the poor victim will have to spend for those needs. That is matrikula.
Those involved in traffic accidents are also on that boat. The traffic investigator upon arrival at the scene will confiscate the drivers’ licenses of both parties. They will then be told to go to the precinct where more senior policemen (and thus better hustlers) are present. Even if the parties involved were to settle the case by themselves, their licenses are in the hands of the policemen who then will hint that they have to take seminars or something like that to get the license back. Tuition will then be paid to have the license released.
It is not only in the fire department and the police that tuition is paid.
Take a homeowner who has recently paid his amortization and has a duly executed deed of sale for the property he occupies.
He will have to pay tuition to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, where capital gain tax must be paid, to the assessor’s office at city hall where the name on the tax declaration will be changed to the new owner.
The rules of the BIR on such transactions are so labyrinthine that only insiders and regular clients like the liaison officers of accounting and law offices, and yes the ubiquitous fixers, can navigate through smoothly. The ordinary citizen who wants to do it on his own will have to spend maybe months just trying to figure out what to do.
And so, after the BIR, the next stop of the hapless homeowner will be the Registry of Deeds, for the transfer of the property to his name on the Transfer Certificate of Title or titulo torrens. Here, unless tuition is paid, the functionary processing the transfer will suddenly become an eagle-eyed proofreader and woe to the homeowner if a period or comma is misplaced in the documents presented. If the documents were perfectly prepared, then all sorts of road blocks will be thrown the homeowner’s way just to delay the transaction. Remember, the homeowner is raring, nay, excited to have the titulo torrens transferred to his name.
After the BIR and the Registry of Deeds, the next stop will be city hall for the issuance of the tax declaration in the name of the homeowner. The same thing as what happened at the registry of deeds will unfold. All sorts of “problems” with the documents presented will be found. Even the lockdowns are used to delay transactions. “Wala po si sir, work from home kasi siya,” is the common excuse for not having the title prepared as promised.
And the worse scenario will be the assessor’s office sending an inspector to the property to measure if the area noted in the old tax declaration is accurate. Most of the time, if tuition were not paid, the inspector will find that the floor area is much bigger that what appears on the old tax declaration and the poor homeowner will be charged taxes and penalties dating back to the time Jose Rizal was shot at the Luneta.
And finally, the homeowner will want to improve his property and so he will apply for a building permit.
Aside from the hefty legal fee charged for building permits, tuition that is no less prohibitive is collected at various levels.
These are just a few examples of matrikula or tuition that the ordinary citizen must bear in the ordinary course of his life.
The voter really can not comprehend the abstract “billions of pesos” stolen from public funds and will identify with the candidate who will promise to stop this ground-level graft.
Finally, this piece was titled Matrikula because of an incident many years ago when the son of a friend got involved in a traffic accident. The son and the other party were taken to the police station where they settled the problem. Both drivers were asked for money in exchange for their licenses.
When my friend complained to the chief of police at the time, who was an acquaintance, the chief himself said: Ganoon talaga, kailangang mag-matrikula.