Youths lambast officials for ‘continued deception of TRAIN impacts

An activist group criticized government officials for insisting that the new tax imposition, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) will have “minimal and temporary” effects on the prices of commodities and shall benefit the rich and poor alike.

In a statement, the Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) condemned the “malicious and deceptive” statements made by Secretary Ramon del Rosario of the Trade department and presidential spokesperson Harry Roque. Both claimed that the impacts of the TRAIN law are “minimal and temporary”. Roque likewise accused anti-TRAIN groups for “spreading disinformation” to the public.

The group returned the allegations and charged that the officials are the ones spreading the misinformation by downplaying the adverse effects of TRAIN and by making it seem “justified and impartial”.

“They must admit that TRAIN like all indirect taxes are pass-on impositions. Manufacturers of goods and service providers shall simply make their clients bear their tax obligations,” SPARK contented.

“It is absurd for them to claim minimal and temporary effects when undeniably, taxing petroleum products and electricity shall push the prices of commodities upwards, generating a tsunami of price hikes on all goods and services, gravely affecting those already living on a hand-to-mouth existence,” their statement added.

The youth activists challenged both Del Rosario and Roque “to live even for a day on minimum wage so they may know first-hand what more than 12 million Filipinos will suffer once TRAIN is fully in motion”.

“Only after they’ve come down from their ivory towers and experience first hand to live in the slums shall they only be credible to speak about impacts to the public,” the group declared.

The group also belied claims made by Del Rosario that ninety percent of the country’s more than forty million workforce shall benefit from TRAIN. The greater bulk of our minimum wage earners are already exempted from paying income taxes since 2008.

SPARK also scoffed at the supposed mitigating measures for marginalized sectors enacted also in the TRAIN law. They posited that “the additional monthly 200 peso allowance for the corruption-riddled 4Ps program will be not be enough even if one lives on cup noodles thrice a day for a month”.

They alleged that the other benefits such as the fuel vouchers for jeepney drivers, fare discounts and NFA rice discounts are still in the planning stages.

“There’s no more denying that the corporations will lose nothing and even gain more under TRAIN with the deductions on their corporate and estate taxes.”

“Worse, the Duterte government plans to grant them even more priviledges once the second phase of TRAIN is legislated that will grant tax amnesties for delinquent estate owners early this year”.

The youth group likewise announced their plans to link up with laborers and other disadvantaged sectors in launching a nationally coordinated protest action on the 23rd of January.* (SPARK Contact Person: Joanne Lim 0927-6600970)