The Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) said the price hikes will be another burden for the urban poor families. But the government is not acting on this additional burden. “If the government is sincere in wanting to help the urban poor, Aquino should have done something to control the price increases,” Leona “Nanay Leleng” Zarsuela, national president of Kadamay, said.
Zarsuela added that, “He (Aquino) did not do anything to control the price increases. Worse, he even refused to increase the wages of workers.”
Scrap the VAT
Bayan said the 12 percent value-added tax to the basic commodities and services should be removed. “Electricity, water, LPG, medicines and food like sardines, noodles, bread, coffee sugar and other products that are being consumed by poor families have a 12 percent VAT.” The collected tax by the government, Bayan said, goes only to debt payment, military expenses and to the pockets of corrupt government officials.
To reduce the prices and ease the people’s burden, Bayan said the VAT on basic commodities and services should be scrapped. “Prices of petroleum products for example would go down by P6 ($.13) per liter if it is not covered by VAT.”
Also, according to non-government think tank Ibon Foundation, the VAT on petroleum products is one of the largest sources of revenues for the government. “Yearly since 2006, oil VAT revenues averaged P48 billion ($111 million). Pres. Aquino thus recently rejected again the calls to touch the VAT on oil amid the increasingly harsh impact of high oil prices on the public.”
From the data by Ibon, consumers of regular gasoline should have been paying only P48.26 ($1.12) per liter and not the current P54.85 ($1.27) without the VAT. Diesel, meanwhile, would have been priced at only P41.45 ($.96) per liter without the VAT.
“With the public bearing a new round of oil prices hikes, Ibon reiterates its call for the government to scrap the VAT on petroleum products, to reduce gasoline and diesel pump prices by P5.70 to 6.60 ($.13 to .15) per liter.” Ibon added that the government should also find alternative measures to raise revenues without being a heavy burden on consumers.
While the news of price increases are ceaseless, and minimum wage workers as well as those who make a living by selling vegetables and other products struggle everyday to make both ends meet, the government on the other hand is “callous to heed the people’s call. “
In Malacañang’s refusal to legislate P125 across the board wage increase, “Aquino just proved that he is not different to the past administrations. He is just as much a puppet of the capitalists,” said Gloria Bongon, president of Bleustar Workers Labor Union (BWLU) and also a factory worker.
While there are people in the government who are themselves capitalists or pro-capitalists, Saldaña said they will not stop campaigning for a just increase in wages.
Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) chairman Elmer “Bong” Labog said that Aquino is insensitive to the plight of Filipino workers and the people. He added that “Aquino is even actively conniving with big capitalists in pressing down the workers’ wages to starVATion levels.