Youth group Anakbayan challenged President Rodrigo Duterte and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez to speak up and end their apparent silence on the rising prices of products and other essential commodities following the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, adding that the administration must be held accountable for the bogus and anti-poor reform.

Speaking at a multisectoral forum on TRAIN Law organized by the UP Praxis in UP Diliman on January 25, Anakbayan secretary general Einstein Recedes pressed the two officials to explain the abrupt spike on the prices of products such as sugar-sweetened beverages, oil products, water and rice, among others, that has affected many Filipino consumers.

“Sec. Dominguez, lumabas ka. ‘Pag inimbitahan ka sa mga paaralan, sa komunidad, sagutin mo ang tanong ng mamamayan. … Inimbitahan po ng Praxis si Sec. Dominguez, pero ang pinadala nila, ang sagot agad, ‘Hindi ako pwedeng sumagot ng tanong, ang sabi ng boss ko general points lang ang pwedeng sabihin ko sa forum na ‘to.’ Paanong maliliwanagan ang taumbayan sa tax reform kung nagtatago ang mga may pakana nito?” he added.

Domiguez and his supposed representative in the forum, DOF assistant secretary Mark Dennis Joven, were a no-show in the forum. Meanwhile, Technical Assistant to the Undersecretary of Finance Jayson Lopez, who eventually represented the department, left the forum before Kilusang Mayo Uno secretary general Jerome Adonis and Recedes presented their stand on the tax reform law.

“Si President Duterte, pagkatapos pirmahan ang batas at nagsabing best gift ng gobyerno sa mamamayan ang tax reform law, hindi na nagsalita, pagkatapos ng sunod-sunod na pagtataas ng presyo ng mga bilihin at serbisyo. Pangulong Duterte, lumabas ka at magpaliwanag ka sa taumbayan dahil sa tax reform law na ‘yan,” Recedes insisted.

‘Derail TRAIN’

Recedes, citing government data and statistics from IBON Foundation research, underscored that the TRAIN Law burdens the poor with incessant price hikes while their wage remains far from decent living standards, whereas the rich enjoy even higher take-home pays and other tax incentives.

He also noted that the TRAIN Law serves the interests of local oligarchs and foreign capitalists that will benefit from the Duterte regime’s ambitious billion-peso infrastructure projects under the “Build Build Build” scheme. Moreover, Recedes said that the increased revenue coming from higher taxes can be channeled to fund the government’s fascist campaigns such as the Oplan Tokhang.

As such, he enjoined the youth to strongly oppose the anti-poor tax reform law and other neoliberal attacks on the Filipino people and called on them to join the massive youth protests scheduled on February 1 and 23 to thwart Duterte’s looming fascist dictatorship.

“February 1, malawakang protesta sa mga pamantasan sa buong bansa ang ilulunsad natin. Sa February 23, malaking protesta na imamartsa natin sa Mendiola para labanan, patalsikin na ang papet, pahirap, at pasistang diktadurang US-Duterte,” Recedes said. #


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