Under the Table Millionaires: The Php25 times 3 Mega-scam at Marina

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In reality, Php 25 is not a lot of money. It is basically fare for three short jeepney rides and a candy, pretty small thing, if you ask a lot of people nowadays. It may even be inconsequential for a lot of us because we do not notice it going out of our wallets. And because we tend to pay every service there is, a mere Php 25 is not that much.

But when that Php25 is used for something that isn’t being given a receipt (I know what you’re thinking, it’s probably more paperwork for such a small amount), we are in essence depriving our government of their fair share of the income. As citizens, we know that everything that we pay has a corresponding tax bring remitted to the government to support the services and projects that make our lives better. But if we let it slide, then these things add up.

Case in point is the mega-scam at Marina where all registered seafarers are expected to renew their Seaman’s Book or to register for a new one. That measly Php25 is used to pay for the rental of a uniform top that is being used in the pictures for the seafarers. So what you say? Here’s the big rip-off – Marina entertains a minimum of 1000 seafarers a day who go through the process of renewal and application. Let’s do the math and let’s see how far the collected and un-invoiced Php25 goes.

For every thousand payees per day, that is Php25,000 out of the government coffers. Multiply it by 5 because there are five working days a week and it runs a total of Php125,000 per week. And multiply it further by another 4 weeks and it gives you a cool Php500,000 – a half million! And here’s the kicker – multiply it by 12 months – and that equals a staggering Php 6 million pesos! A huge 6 million pesos in unreported, untaxed, unliquidated money that is being withheld from the government. Yes, we realize that only a portion of the total if it is reported would go to the coffers, but Php6 million is not a small amount. It can be the allocated budget of a small department or several schools in the country. It can even be seed money for a scholarship program that would benefit thousands of impoverished but deserving students! And where does it go? To the Marina Employees Cooperative which, for all intents and purposes would have to be liable for all this.

And we have just scratched the surface because there’s still an issue with the folders and the stamps which also are smelling fishy too. The reports state that an equal amount is being generated and goes unreported to the government. And if you are not alarmed, let us spell it out for you Php 18 million is not chump change. That is already representative of the allocated budget of a small department in the bureaucracy – enough to pay the salaries of so many hardworking people – enough to supply relief goods for evacuees, enough to fund the conditional-cash-transfer program for a lot of 4Ps members.

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There has to be something done about this. This is not a small issue that can be swept under the rug. This is a major issue that needs to be resolved right out in the public. Let the people behind these scams be held accountable by the people of the republic.

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