What will happen to Tacloban Businesses?
by FFE PH News staff
BIR Commissioner Kim Henares
Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) commissioner Kim Henares announced on Thursday that businesses that sustained losses due to looting can claim tax deductions on their income tax returns.
The commissioner clarified that the loss will be considered ‘casualty loss’ under the Tax Code, saying ‘If you have losses due to theft, it’s the same as having losses because of the storm.’
However, the commissioner added that businesses must prove that their losses were due to theft before claiming tax deductions. Businesses that were not paid by their insurance companies for the losses may also claim the tax deductions.
To prove that their loss was due to theft, she said the owners must have filed a police report. She said that others may take advantage of the situation, and clarified that ‘Even if their losses were not a result of theft, they say it as so for the deductions. So they really have to prove there was theft.’
Desperate survivors have been seen looting establishments, including malls, garages and homes, to get water and basic necessities. More policemen have been deployed in Tacloban City since the typhoon hit to stop the looting and restore order.
Meanwhile, Disaster Risk Reduction Network (DRRNet) – Philippines cautioned the public against calling the typhoon victims criminals. Zenaida Delica Willison of DRRNet said ‘Let’s not call them thieves. We don’t know their context, their circumstances.
‘They are hungry and desperate, which is why they are able to do things they would normally not do.’
DRRNet, a civic group composed of organisations, communities and advocates for disaster risk management, clarified that taking basic necessities from business establishments should not be considered ‘looting’ but ‘survival foraging.’
The group said ‘What has been reported in the calamity areas are not massive looting but survival foraging and coping behavior.
‘Even a refrigerator may serve a vital purpose to store important goods when people lose their homes.’
DRRNet said the survivors should be considered resourceful since they are taking the initiative to reestablish their lives while waiting for assistance: ‘People, including the poor, are neither stupid nor silly. They are intelligent and full of resources, even in times of hardships.’
They added that ‘[contrary] to widespread myths, disasters bring out the best in people, e.g. bayanihan, collaboration, mutual help, courageous behavior.’
‘In fact, such a military approach to disaster risk reduction and management may well undermine decades of fantastic work by local communities, NGOs, and other sectors of civil society in the Philippines.’