Thursday, January 27, 2005

Anakpawis solons walk out on VAT hike passage

Joint statement of Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano and Crispin
Beltran on the VAT walkout

January 26, 2005

"We will never betray the people"

House Bill 3555, the bill increasing the value added tax to 12 percent does not
and will not answer the present crisis we are experiencing. Instead, this bill
will further push the Filipino people to the quagmire of poverty, especially
the workers, peasants, urban poor and all members of the toiling masses who, as
end-users, will be hardest hit by soaring prices of basic commodities due to the
VAT increase.

Malacanang's claim that the VAT increase will not hurt the poor mainly because
of so-called exemptions of the bill, particularly, agricultural products, like
rice, fish, meat and vegetables in their original state, is a blatant lie.

In fact, big landlords are the main beneficiaries in the VAT's exemption
provisions. In the present semi-feudal social structure, the large chunk of
farmers' produce are concentrated in the hands of big landlords in the form of
the latter's extraction of high land rent, usury, and tributes. On top of
these, the VAT increase will also increase the costs of production that will
also be shouldered by the Filipino peasantry.

These days, the cost of living for a family of six in the National Capital
Region is pegged around P602.31 for a family of six or P498.04 on the average
nationwide. The prevailing daily minimum wage, however, is only P250 for
non-agricultural workers and P213 for agricultural workers. The gap between the
minimum wage and cost of living ranges from a low of P352 to a high of P389. The
12 percent VAT that will be imposed nationwide will spare no one, neither
workers who earn much less than what they deserve and need, nor the unemployed
and poor.

We will never betray the toiling masses of workers and peasants that will
shoulder the burden of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's unjust and
anti-people tax measures.

We will not be surprised that upon the passage of this infamous bill, there will
be intensified peasant uprisings and greater labor unrest principally directed
against the US-Arroyo regime.

We call on the Filipino people, particularly the toiling masses of workers and
peasants, to intensify their resistance against the Arroyo government's
anti-people programs and policies dictated by no less than her imperialist
masters through the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.



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