THE Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino calls on President Rodrigo Duterte to reject the neoliberal economic policies of his favorite punching bag and predecessor Benigno Simeon Aquino III in the face of spiraling prices of basic commodities and utilities.
BMP President Luke Espiritu, in a statement, said Duterte’s continued implementation of Aquino’s neoliberal economic policies makes evident the “president’s lack of empathy to the wails and woes of the Filipino majority.”
“His so-called platform for change is a scam! We have not seen any major change in our country’s economic policies. It continues to harp on the correctness of liberalization, deregulation, privatization, and contractualization. But even if world oil prices are going up, he could keep domestic gas prices on a standstill by adopting an emergency policy of regulation,” Espiritu alleged.
Espiritu said Duterte should immediately implement price control and repeal the oil deregulation law to protect the Filipino.
“Duterte needs a kind heart and the political will to implement the reversal of the deregulation for oil prices, for this temporal but immediate situation, which should be the first step towards the outright repeal of the oil deregulation law,” he said.
Espiritu added that “in times of emergencies, the president can enforce price regulation to secure the lives and livelihood of the Filipino people. Every peso increase in the price of basic necessities spells disaster to the workers and the poor. Yet he only lifted a finger to blame the world market rather than to sign a decree to curb prices.”
By “doing a blame game” or by pointing out to world oil prices as the culprit in the price hike of basic goods and services “instead of using the powers of the state to address the people’s complaints against inflation reveals the President’s utter lack of sympathy to a people whose pockets are being emptied sooner than their next payday or income because of inflation,” Espiritu stressed.
Deregulation and Train Law
The labor leader also said the deregulation and the recently passed Tax Reformation for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law combo is a disaster for the Filipino nation.
Espiritu explains that spiraling prices, which could not be curtailed in a deregulated market, was aggravated by the recent tax measures that imposed excise taxes on petroleum products and sugar sweetened beverages.
“Excise taxes are inflationary, especially when imposed on goods for public consumption but also for producers goods because they are pass-on charges to end consumers. Its effect is across-the-board. Yet the tax exemptions in TRAIN package was only for the middle class and the filthy rich. The exemption to P250,000 gross annual personal incomes did not benefit the minimum wage earners who were already exempted withholding taxes. Tax exemptions are illusory to the majority of our people who live in the underground economy,” Espiritu alleged.
Tax, Tax Tax = Debt, Debt, Debt
“Worse, while the people are burdened by spiraling prices partially caused by TRAIN Package 1, the increased public coffers would not be used for improved basic social services. These taxes were imposed to gain the confidence of creditors as the government embarks on an aggressive acquisition of loans,” Espiritu said.
Moreover, Espiritu said, the infrastructure programs of ‘build, build, build’ would be financed by 80% domestic borrowing and 20% official development assistance – not directly by the increased collections brought by the TRAIN packages.
He said the country’s outstanding debt has reached its historic high. Who will stand to gain from the onerous burden carried by the consuming and taxpaying public? More interest income for loans to local banks (BDO, BPI, RCBC, Metrobank, etc.) and increased land values for urban landlords (SMDC, Ayala, Robinson’s Land, etc.), who are all owned by one and the same people.
“Ang TRAIN Packages ay hindi lamang pahirap sa masa kundi pakikinabangan lamang ng mga elitista,” Espiritu concluded.