Presidential candidate Panfilo "Ping" Lacson expressed his willingness to go after unsettled taxes in order tp finance crucial projects of his government, including a national broadband plan (NBP) designed to significantly improve Internet connection services across the country.
Speaking from the perspective of someone who used to defend the budget of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on the Senate floor, Lacson explained that roughly P18 billion is required to build the necessary infrastructure and systems for such a plan.
In his recent town hall meeting with residents from Malibay, Pasay City, the third-term senator said he could raise that kind of budget if Filipinos grant him the privilege and opportunity to manage the executive department, which has the authority to implement these kinds of programs.
‘’If we accomplish that (NBP), our Internet services will be steady. Unfortunately, I was always trying to pursue that—P18-billion. I was drawing funds from other agencies that I believe would only misuse it. But the problem again was in the implementation,’’ he said.
Lacson recalled that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only released a little over P900 million for the national broadband network project. This prevented the DICT from developing the fiber optic backbone, which is a vital component of high-speed Internet services.
Improving the country’s information highways is tied to Lacson's overall digitalization plan, which will be a priority program under his presidency. For this reason, he said he would pursue whatever taxes are owed to the government to fund future projects for the benefit of the people.
‘’Think about it, P23-billion estate tax, but it reached P203 billion because it was long overdue. Because every year, it incurs a five percent interest rate... Why is it not being collected? ... It continues to be neglected... If we are already digitalized, it would not get to that point, it will be paid,’’he added.
He was referring to the controversial estate tax debts reportedly owed by the family of his rival, former President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr., which the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) tried but failed to collect in 25 years.
Lacson’s intention to digitize all government transactions is part of his lifelong mission to combat graft and corruption.
He believes a fully digitized administration would intensify tax collection efforts, so the government would no longer have to keep borrowing money for its programs.
This would also help make the Philippines be on par with our neighboring countries whose investments on similar NBP or digitalization programs are not only saving them billions in public funds, but are vastly improving their economies as well, according to the presidential candidate.