This is written by By Zoe Ramores of thehead of the Gender Desk of the University Student Council of the University of the Philippines Baguio — Ed
Five months since the Duterte administration implemented the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, its effects have started trickling down to the everyday lives of thousands of workers and people from different sectors.
Despite the administration’s claims that the TRAIN law was implemented to make taxes ‘lower and fairer’ for the Filipinos by giving an income tax exemption to workers who earn below P20,000 per month, the new tax reform law has turned out to be more of a burden rather than a consolation to the Filipinos. Majority of the population are now facing much greater economic problems due to the higher costs of excise taxes which enable continuous price hikes on most basic commodities and services.
Since January, the constant increase on the price of petroleum products, particularly gasoline, diesel, and coal, which fuels most of our public transportation vehicles and our power generators, has been leading to the inflation on almost everything in the market. It has taken a toll on the income of public transportation drivers, urging them to increase transportation costs, thus, also taking a toll on the pockets of Filipino commuters.
Besides these, the TRAIN law further caused the increase on the cost of electricity, water, and basic commodities in the market, especially sugar-sweetened beverages and meat products, draining the pockets of all Filipino consumers, as well as sidewalk vendors, and small convenience store owners.
Members of Filipino families, especially the mothers who are expected to budget their households’ incomes, are taking on much bigger problems; not only do they need to worry about ensuring the welfare of their families, but they also need to think of ways on how to make ends meet for them.
Students have likewise started experiencing the overbearing effects of the TRAIN law especially this recent start of classes, because of the upsurge on the costs of school supplies, jeepney and taxi fares, dormitory fees, and even on tuition fees. Several schools and universities will be increasing their tuition fees and miscellaneous fees, further adding to the economic toll on the income of their parents, which is clearly contrary to the Duterte administration’s statement that the tax collected under the TRAIN law will be allocated to the budget for education.
Furthermore, the usual daily budget of the students can no longer shoulder an average of two to three meals a day. The basic necessities of students for their daily activities can barely be covered by their allowances, particularly because even the cost of hygiene products like soap, shampoo, napkins, and many more, have increased by five to ten pesos each.
Students bearing the burden of balancing academic responsibilities and economic instability can lead to mental health problems and can contribute to the rise of youth suicide rate in the Philippines. Dropping out of school becomes an option for students so they can prioritize on finding means to help in generating income for their families regardless of the nature of the work. Students who come from poor households can become more vulnerable to settling in jobs which do not ensure their welfare just to be able to gain extra income.
Female students, for example, resort to selling their bodies which makes them prone to acquiring sexually-transmitted diseases, other health problems and make them vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse. Some students apply as contractual workers in malls and fast food chains where they work for several hours in exchange for a minimum or below minimum wage.
The Duterte administration may have seemed to try to control these damages caused by the TRAIN law to minimum wage earners and to the poor by starting to allot cash transfers to the poorest households by giving P200 every month to poor families, amounting to P2,400 per year. However, considering the high cost of goods and living, these cash transfers are mere facades to hide the reality that the TRAIN law is a large profiteering scheme enabled by the Duterte administration.
The TRAIN law is only one of the problems the Filipino people are now facing under the Duterte administration. The administration has undeniably failed in solving the worsening poverty in the Philippines through the implementation of policies that clearly prioritizes accumulation of profit rather than the improvement of the state of the Filipino people. If the administration continues to implement such policies, then the oppressed will not rest until justice is served, even if it means ousting Duterte himself. # nordis.net