President Rodrigo Duterte signed the new Tax Reform Law known as TRAIN last December 2017. Despite being supposedly ‘pro-people’ and ‘pro-poor,’ the new law is said to have the opposite effect. Congressman of Anakpawis Partylist Hon. Ariel Casilao revealed the adverse outcomes of TRAIN in a forum last January 27 at the Assumption College of Davao.
The Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) is the first part of a five- package series of tax reforms called the Comprehensive Tax Reform Package.
Under the TRAIN law, there will be an excise tax on drinks with sugar content and petroleum such as diesel, gasoline, kerosene, and LPG. People who earn an annual income of 250,000 pesos or lower will be exempted from personal income tax.
In spite of the optimistic promises, ANAKPAWIS Representative Ariel Casilao explained that this law would bring more harm than good to the country.
“Maski pa ug naa kay personal income tax exemption, ang take home pay nimo kay gamay gihapon,” he said.[Even if you have personal income tax exemption, your take home pay will still be low.]
According to him, this is due to the price increase of daily commodities. The rise of petroleum price has pushed jeepney and bus drivers to protest for higher fares.
“Sa Manila, nag petisyon ang halos tanang public utility jeepney association and operators nga ang pamasahe gikan sa 8 php mahimong 15 php,” Casilao added.[In Manila, almost all of the jeepney operators petitioned to raise fares from 8 php to 15 php.]
The purpose of increasing the prices of drinks with sugar content is to benefit the health of the citizens. However, this only sparked anger from people of the low-income bracket.
Casilao defended that the higher prices for sweetened beverages will only be advantageous to the rich as they are not the main consumers of these products.
“Kay health benefit man, dili na mo manginom ug tamis kaayo ug dili na pod mo pakaonon ug parat kaayo. Lami kaayo ingnon nga ‘ingna na sa mga urban poor nga ang pagkaon kada adlaw kay noodles, itlog, tinapa ug bulad.'”[Because it is for the benefit of your health, you are not to drink sweetened beverages anymore. You are also not allowed to eat very salty foods. It is very tempting to say ‘tell that to the urban poor who eat noodles, eggs, canned goods, and dried fish on a daily basis.’]
The congressman added that the exemption of personal income tax would not benefit farmers, fishers, and drivers because their salaries are not fixed.
“Kung mag-uuma ka, wala man kay mixed income bracket. Mag salig man ka sa cropping and harvest season. Kung mangingisda ka, magsalig man ka sa kuha nimo. Dili mana fixed ang ilang income so wala silay benefit sa personal income tax,” he said.[If you are a farmer, you won’t have a mixed-income bracket. You will depend on the cropping and harvest season. If you are a fisher, you will rely on your catch. Farmers and fishers do not have fixed income. Therefore, they will not benefit from personal income tax.]
The rise of prices supposedly burdens an estimated number of 15.1 million families with no fixed incomes.
Casilao calls out to the people and President Duterte that TRAIN is not the right answer to the country’s ailing economy.
“Tunay na reporma sa lupa, pambansang industriyalisasyon, ang kailangan,” he expressed.[Genuine land reform and national industrialization is needed.]