DESPITE the optimism of most Filipinos in welcoming the Year of the Pig, they will instead be greeted with the second round of fuel excise taxes as the Duterte government disregards the public clamor to suspend the implementation of TRAIN Package 1 that gave rise to the meteoric increase of prices of basic commodities.
Based on Republic Act 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, the excise taxes for cooking fuels LPG and kerosene would increase by PhP1 per kilogram and liter respectively. Transport fuels diesel and gasoline would also increase by PhP2 per liter starting January 1.
Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) senatorial bet Ka Leody De Guzman said that the workers and the poor would have to brace themselves for the new round of fuel excise taxes that “will inevitably lead to spiraling inflation rates. It is yet another showcase of financial coercion by the Duterte regime on the poor”.
“Similar to its so-called “kill, kill, kill” policy on illegal drugs, which evolved into a war on the poor, the “tax, tax, tax” of TRAIN is also targeting the impoverished masses, especially the millions of informal workers who did not benefit from the increased exemptions to income taxes,” the veteran labor leader added.
What is more appalling, De Guzman asserted “is not only the aggravation of the poverty and misery of millions of Filipino through over taxation but the purpose to which these taxes are imposed”.
He belied claims by the economic managers of the Duterte administration who ceaselessly claim that the increase in government collections would not lead to more budget for social services such as housing, education, and healthcare.
The real intent he revealed is to increase the country’s credit rating among international and local borrowers in order to secure more loans to bankroll the infrastructure projects under the “build, build, build” program.
“We don’t mind paying taxes if workers are the direct beneficiaries of these projects but this is not how public funds are disposed. We no longer want to feed the appetite of pork-hungry bureaucrats, whose only intent is to enrich themselves by using the nation’s coffers while perpetuating their clans and dynasties in power,” De Guzman clarified.
The PLM and allied organizations vowed to hold protest against the second tranche of Duterte’s tax reforms and campaign against pork barrel-addicted legislators in the coming midterm elections.