MANILA – After mounting another Black Friday Protest against the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, youth group Anakbayan has challenged the Duterte regime to heed to the demands of the Filipino people to stop the implementation of the law instead of dismissing the widespread clamor through “callous and condescending remarks.”
“Filipino consumers are reeling from high prices and their living gets difficult by the day, yet the heartless regime keeps on belittling their struggles. If Duterte is indeed sincere in addressing the plight of Filipinos, he has the discretion to wield his power and finally use it for good to stop TRAIN Law,” lamented Einstein Recedes, Anakbayan Secretary-General.
A day before, speaking at a forum on May 30, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) secretary Benjamin Diokno said that Filipinos bearing the brunt of high fuel prices and commodities “should be less of a crybaby,” insisting that the law cannot be suspended midway as it is needed to fund the “world class infrastructure” being built by the regime. He also claimed that the poorest Filipinos who he says do not pay taxes actually benefit from the tax reform law.
Meanwhile, President Duterte has affirmed his stand against the suspension of the TRAIN Law, saying that while he acknowledges the law as a reason for increased prices of goods and services, he does not want to stop the implementation of the law because “he needs money to run the country.”
“If anything, Diokno’s tactless remark is short of admitting the ill effects of the TRAIN Law and how much he doesn’t care about its impact on the majority of Filipinos. After all, we cannot expect any sympathy from this person living in a bubble who previously had the gall to claim that no person would ever go hungry in the Philippines only if one will do hard work,” Recedes continued.
He likewise lambasted the regime for continuously defending the TRAIN Law by justifying that it is needed to fund Duterte’s ambitious “Build Build Build” projects, saying that the government should tax the rich instead of passing the burden to the poor.
“Diokno, Duterte and all the neoliberal supporters of the tax reform law always talk about how TRAIN is badly needed to fuel Duterte’s mega-infrastructure projects but they are mum on how it burdens the already hard-up Filipino people while corporations and the wealthy elite enjoy tax cuts. Why must the poor carry the burden of funding such projects that will not actually benefit them?” said Recedes.
Recedes pointed out a study by independent think-tank IBON Foundation showing that infrastructure spending under the “Build Build Build” scheme “is biased away from poor regions and … is biased away from the kind of infrastructure projects that the poor directly need and will be directly using.”
“Comparing the regional distribution of the government’s flagship infrastructure projects by value and poverty incidence by region, there is a general trend of higher infrastructure spending in regions of low poverty incidence, and of low infrastructure spending in regions of high poverty incidence,” the IBON report added.
Progressive groups including Anakbayan are encouraging the Filipino people to sign the petition against TRAIN Law. [BicolToday.com]