A STUDENT organization on Saturday challenged Philippine trade Secretary Ramon Del Rosario and Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque to live on minimum wage so they may know what more than 12 million Filipinos would suffer because of the recently approved Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion otherwise known as TRAIN.
The Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK), in a statement, said Del Rosario and Roque were deliberately misinforming the public when they claimed that TRAIN will have “minimal and temporary” effects on the prices of commodities and shall benefit the rich and poor alike.
Indeed the much ballyhooed tax reform of the Duterte administration will bring higher take home pay for Filipinos but will cause higher fuel prices.
To compensate for the loss on revenue brought about by higher take home pay of Filipinos, lawmakers decided to increase taxes fuel, including coal and liquefied petroleum gas; and taxes on tobacco, soft drinks, cosmetics and Value Added Tax. The government will spend much of the revenue (around 70 percent) to be gained by the tax reform on infrastructure and military projects. Less money (30 percent) will be allocated for education, health and other social services.
“It is absurd for them to claim minimal and temporary effects when undeniably, taxing petroleum products and electricity shall push the prices of commodities upwards, generating a tsunami of price hikes on all goods and services, gravely affecting those already living on a hand-to-mouth existence,” the SPARK said.
Moreover, Roque earlier accused opponents of the tax reform of “spreading disinformation” to the public, a charge that was immediately hurled back to the presidential mouthpiece by SPARK by saying that the former human rights lawyer was trying hard to make it appear that TRAIN is “justified and impartial.”
“They (Del Rosario and Roque) must admit that TRAIN like all indirect taxes are pass-on impositions. Manufacturers of goods and service providers shall simply make their clients bear their tax obligations,” SPARK contented.
SPARK insists that “only after they’ve come down from their ivory towers and experience first hand to live in the slums shall they only be credible to speak about TRAIN’s impact to the public.”
The students also belied Del Rosario’s claims that ninety percent of the country’s more than forty million workforce shall benefit from TRAIN by saying that the overwhelming bulk of the country’s minimum wage earners are already exempted from paying income taxes since 2008.
They also scoffed at the supposed mitigating measures of TRAIN for marginalized sector.
“The additional monthly 200 peso allowance for the corruption-riddled 4Ps program will be not be enough even if one lives on cup noodles thrice a day for a month,” SPARK noted.
Furthermore, SPARK alleged that the other benefits envisioned in the tax reform package, such as the fuel vouchers for jeepney drivers, fare discounts and National Food Authority rice discounts are still in the planning stages. These are promises not facts.
“There’s no more denying that the corporations will lose nothing and even gain more under TRAIN with the deductions on their corporate and estate taxes.”
“Worse, the Duterte government plans to grant them even more privileges once the second phase of TRAIN is legislated for it will grant tax amnesties to delinquent estate owners early this year.”
Meanwhile, the group said they will link up with laborers and other disadvantaged sectors in launching a nationally coordinated protest action on January 23.