Fighting mad-A A +A
Monday, September 30, 2013
THIS time, the fat is on the fire. Even the most conservative sector of Negrense society is fighting mad. And the issue is on taxes.
In theory, taxes bankroll the soldiers who defend us and police to uphold the law. Taxes subsidize the judiciary so Citizen Juan and María de la Cruz are assured of a right to fair trial and redress of grievances, or pay the firefighters who protect their homes from getting burned.
In dismal practice, however, congressional pork barrel turned out to be a great slap on our collective faces. A large number of our solons that debate and approve how taxpayers’ money should be spent for the collective welfare of society are in fact burning the midnight oil figuring out how to divide the loot.
Now, the Bureau of Internal Revenue wants to impose a Value-Added Tax on raw sugar. This proposed move has understandably enraged sugarcane planters.
The representatives of four sugar federations -- CONFED, United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines, National Federation of Sugar Producers, and Panay Sugar Planters Federation -- are burning the midnight lamp to counter BIR’s move.
Right now, the sugarcane planters are brainstorming on possible legal remedies such as a court case. But the air is rife with talks of “political action/civil disobedience such as a tax revolt are options we’re beginning to hear,” as former governor Rafael Coscolluela warned. It needs a spark to explode an oil depot.
Of course, the proposed VAT on raw sugar is an issue in itself. No doubt, taxes will jack up the cost of domestic sugar, now fighting for its life against the challenge of cheap, highly-subsidized imported sugar that will enter the country through the front door, tariff-free, by 2015.
President of the United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines Manuel Lamata predicted that their “cost of production will skyrocket. We can forget competing with the Asian countries. Our sugar industry will die. The BIR should be ready to absorb five million workers.”
Enrique Rojas, NFSP president, has the same take. “Imposing EVAT on raw sugar will further reduce the income of thousands of small farmers, who make up majority of sugar producers. It will cause added burden to consumers who will have to pay the increase in sugar price of no less than P3 per kilo.”
I wish I can disagree with these gentlemen. I wish I could say, “Let the sugarcane planters sacrifice for the nation.”
But I can’t. No sane citizen could. Not after voluminous documents and whistle-blowers exposed government officials who messed up the hard earned money that E-VAT has collected from us. Rich and poor Filipinos are obliged to sacrifice to make these political charlatans get rich at our expense.
Besides, I saw a large number of buenas familias Negrenses who joined civil society, students, religious, even government personnel, and other middle class sectors at the Provincial Capitol during the Million People March at the Luneta. They are just as outraged as the rest of us by the thieves who have become much better-off by miring us deep into poverty with taxes.
We refuse to throw good money after bad. We are not fools ready to part with more of our money. National government, including the BIR, should clean up its act first by filing criminal cases and scoring convictions against suspects of criminal wrong-doing.
Or else it faces the whirlwind of a fighting mad citizenry.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 30, 2013.