Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Vol. IV, No. 28 August 15 - 21, 2004 Quezon City, Philippines
Speaker Bows to Text Power
texting helped hasten the ouster of President Joseph Estrada, the power of
texting could also be instrumental in changing government’s plans as
seen in the “text barrage” last August 9.
RONALYN V. OLEA
used their cellular phones or cellphones last Aug. 9 to protest against
the House of Representatives’ proposal to impose taxes on the use of
text messaging or texting. Many of the texters were Filipinos living
of text messages flooded House Speaker Jose de Venecia’s cellphone.
Members of TxtPower, a broad alliance of cellphone subscribers in the
country, sent this text message to various cellphone subscribers:
“Txtrs, REVOLT! B a part of hstory. join 2day’s cybr-rally! Send `NO 2
TXT TAX’ 2 d ofc of spkr JdV 09178101226! Join TXTPOWER piket 1pm outsyd
congress. Pls. pass!”
afternoon of the same day, calling de Venecia’s cellular phone number
gave the message, “The number you have dialed is incorrect.“
to a Globe customer service representative, the number is “invalid”
and “has not been used by any subscriber.” She said that Globe keeps a
record of subscribers for five years and no subscriber used the said
number. The latter, she explained, is either non-existing account or a new
account that is not yet activated.
following day, de Venecia decided against any move to tax text messaging.
Philippines is said to be the world’s text capital.
There are around 28 million cellphone subscribers in the country.
With a population of about 80 million, one out of four Filipinos use
cellphones. There are 150 million text messages sent every day and,
on the average, a cellphone subscriber sends five text messages a day.
revealed that 10,000 Filipinos here and abroad have signed a petition
against tax on text messaging and that the count goes on.
80 percent of text users are small wage earners who find it convenient and
cheaper to communicate with their folks in the provinces.
revealed that 80 percent of those who signed the petition were students
Palatino, national executive vice president of Anak ng Bayan youth party
and co-convenor of TxtPower, said that taxing text messages would limit
access to cheap and efficient communication technology of millions of
students and young professionals.
Filipino migrants’ presence was also felt in the petition. One out of
every 20 online signatures came from Filipinos based in the U.S., Canada,
Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, France and other countries.
a 160-character text message abroad costs P10 to P20 ($0.18 to $0.36,
based on an exchange rate of P55.68 per US dollar). The Philippine Long
Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), meanwhile, charges $0.40 per minute for
international calls. For many families of Filipino migrants, texting is
much cheaper than making voice calls.
Malacañang said that it would instead propose a franchise tax on mobile
cellphone providers which would benefit cellphone subcribers.
Convenor Trixie Concepcion rejected the proposal, arguing that consumers
suffer from taxes on utilities as these are passed on to them. “The
telecommunication companies can always find creative ways of reducing
services or increasing costs to recover these new taxes which increases
the cost of using mobiles (or cellphones).“
added that while consumers end up paying for these taxes, companies retain
their profits and the Macapagal-Arroyo administration gets to address the
ballooning budget deficit aggravated by graft and corruption and
overspending in the recent presidential elections.
said TxtPower will continue to oppose any attempt to impose taxes on
cellphones. “While we oppose any move to tax the ordinary consumers, we
call on the Macapagal-Arroyo administration to implement other measures in
addressing the budget deficit.”
reiterated the group’s call to fight graft and corruption and prosecute
Jose Enrique A. Africa, Bayan Muna consultant on finance and the economy,
said that a crackdown on big-time and endemic corruption will already
result in savings amounting to P127 billion ($2.28 billion).
Africa also noted that the biggest tax evaders are rich. He said that corporations pay only P88.3 billion ($1.58 billion) out of a potential average tax collection of P142.4 billion ($2.56 billion) annually. Bulatlat