Duterte’s TRAIN is an outright bane to the Filipino people

The passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), a reform that is meant to patch the country’s two-decades old tax law, proves that United States lackey President Rodrigo Duterte has reached the pinnacle of his fascist attacks against the Filipino people, only augmenting their suffering to an unimaginable extent.

Corporate tax cut is the Department of Finance’s next push as soon as sessions in Congress resume. This is a follow-through to Republic Act 10963 which “reduced” personal income taxes while raising levy on basic commodities.

What is to be unveiled in the coming packages of the tax reform program is a framework of economic despotism — a recalibration of neoliberal policies further pushed by the Duterte regime. TRAIN boasts that the reduction of personal income tax will alleviate poverty rate in the country. But this bogus tax reform does not even give an answer to the intrinsic predicaments confronting ordinary Filipinos. In fact, the minimum wage in Metro Manila remains at PhP 512 and even lower in other regions. Add on top that millions of Filipino workers are beyond the poverty level and millions suffer labor contractualization along with harsh working conditions.

The finance department said it wants to cut the corporate income tax rate to 25% from 30% in order to encourage firms to spend more and to improve the country’s attractiveness to foreign investors.

The overhauling of the country’s tax law, especially its goal to look “attractive” to foreign investors, is done at the expense of the lives of the Filipino people. TRAIN was ratified by Congress without proper deliberation — an actual manifestation that Duterte is pressured to devise a tax reform program that will comply with policy recommendations of the United States under the Partnership for Growth project (PFG). PFG only aggravates the already deleterious imperialist intervention in the Philippines. In fact, the Philippines is the only country in Asia to be part of this US project, tied up with US Agency for International Development, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the International Monetary Fund-World Bank.

Meanwhile, research group IBON said that the government “grossly exaggerated how lower income taces will benefit Filipinos,” and that it “downplayed how the country’s poorest will be burdened by higher prices on basic goods and services without getting any tax exemptions.”

Duterte talks with excessive pride saying that the tax reform law will benefit millions of Filipino people. In fact, 15.2 million families have to deal with more expensive food and drinks, transportation fares, electricity, and other goods and services. Higher taxes imposed on basic commodities is a bane to the Filipino people. TRAIN is clearly an anti-Filipino reform.

Whatever package comes next, the entire framework of TRAIN is simply to fund Duterte’s lust and yearning for a dictatorial rule. A big part of the Php 600 billion target revenue from the tax reform will be used to fund the Philippine military. Instead of resolving the basic problems confronting the Filipino people, it only reinforces its machinery to perpetrate fascist attacks.

While millions of Filipinos are quelled by Duterte, through TRAIN they are funding Oplan Tokhang, Oplan Kapayapaan and all-out war, and Martial law — the three wars that are on a carnage campaign to trample the clamor of Filipinos for genuine change.

The last stop of Duterte’s TRAIN is the people’s ardent and growing resistance. It is Duterte himself who will burn in the fire he is setting on the Filipino people.

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