By Elinando Cinco
In a community composed of civilized nations, the Philippines is cast as apathetic, unconcerned, lacking of emotion, and even insensitive.
Tagalog-speaking Filipinos have a word for that and it can only be translated in English as “thick-skinned.”
The apathy emanates from those who first conceived the unpopular idea that can only be likened to a run-away locomotive that will obliterate anyone and anything that gets in its way.
TRAIN is the acronym for Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion. And the Duterte administration will come down in history as a precursor of a methodical annihilation of the “common tao.” Because that is what will happen to him when this bill becomes a law.
Call him Juan de la Cruz or Mang Pandoy, the TRAIN will not only derail his chances of improving his life but will drive him off to hardship and nothingness as a bread winner of his family.
The Senate which is preparing a so-called smoother version of TRAIN but members of the Upper Chamber’s tax and finance committee can also be labelled as sympathizers of the administration measure.
Independent personages who, by reason of their training and experience, have voiced out their displeasure on the inclusion of some items in the tax bill especially those that will surely hurt the poor when implemented.
Note that those items will now be taxed – hold your breath – 3,000 percent higher than their existing levy.
These experts have been calling the attention of those TRAIN exponents in the Executive Department, as well as the senators concerned to come to their senses.
As crafted, the TRAIN promises to let marginal earners and minimum salaried workers of smaller tax or even tax exemption. But critics are quick to point out that the alleged windfall of tax-free income will be blown away when basic commodities that the marginalized sector of society traditionally buy and consume every day will now be sporting increased price tags that are out of reach and beyond the imagination of poor families.
For example, blaring news reports are out in media every day that more and more people are now well aware of the disastrous effects of TRAIN in the pricing of basic commodities.
Last week, more than 300,000 individuals signed a petition that denounces those ill effects and signified their opposition to TRAIN.
Congressmen who will compose the bicameral committee that will review the measure have come out in the open on their intention to water down the injurious provisions of TRAIN.
And for the past several weeks, TV viewers are informed by 15-second informational plugs that if the TRAIN becomes a law, some fruit juices and soft drinks will have a retail price of P20 per liter, as taxed.
The “sweetened products” are consumed by the lower strata of the population.
More than five million carinderias, cafeterias, sari-sari store owners, and ambulant peddlers are members of an organization called PASCO whose main items are those juice drinks. They surely face a bleak future, uncertain to attract the same patronage if retail prices soar because of increased taxes on the main ingredients of their consumer items.
“So if you are against this tax on juice drinks, affix your signature on the petitions that are available near public areas to show them of your opposition to the plan,” says the plug.