Tricycle drivers join strike-A A +A
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- At least 20,000 tricycle drivers have expressed their support to the nationwide transport strike initiated by the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) on Thursday.
Pedring Punzalan, president of the Federation of Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association, said they will join the tigil-pasada movement from 6 a.m. to 12 noon Thursday.
"This is to dramatize our protest against the unbridled increases in gasoline and other oil products," Punzalan said in Filipino.
The tricycle drivers will accompany the 5,000 public utility jeepney drivers and operators in Angeles City, as well as thousands more from this city and towns of Mabalacat, Magalang and Porac.
The jeepney drivers will hold a transport strike from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. to protest the series of oil price hikes in the country.
Reynaldo Gueco, spokesperson of Piston-Pampanga, sought for the understanding of public commuters who will be affected by the transport strike.
"We call for the understanding and support of each and every kabalen and we also enjoin you to wear black as a sign of protest," Gueco said.
Aside from the oil price hikes and overpricing by big oil companies, the jeepney operators are also protesting the arbitrary tax hike being imposed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in Central Luzon since November 2010.
Piston-Pampanga data showed that per unit taxes on public utility vehicles (PUVs) are the P500 annual tax and the P120 monthly common carrier Tax (CCT).
"Now, without public consultation, the BIR increased their CCT to P330 per month that must be paid on or before the 20th of every month. Failure to pay within the prescribed period is penalized by 200 percent or P660. So, if an operator fails to pay in time, he must pay P980 tax and penalty for that month alone," Gueco said.
Even more painful for jeepney operators, Gueco said, is that the BIR is forcing them to pay P5,000 per year for the two-year period of 2009 and 2010 as CCT, including penalties because they "did not pay" their taxes properly.
BIR regional officials have been implementing Revenue Regulation 09-2007 as basis for the recent tax increase as well as the tax dues and penalties for the year 2009 and 2010.
"This is the same revenue regulation that was suspended by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2007 due to the clamor of national transport groups against the 2,600 percent tax increase as a result of this regulation," Gueco said.
Clamor from the transport group to suspend the tax hike has prompted Senators Francis Escudero and Panfilo Lacson to file resolutions to conduct a Senate inquiry on this issue.
The final report of the Senate committee on ways and means submitted to the Senate on February 11, 2008 basically concluded that said revenue regulation is illegal.
However, when the transport leaders reminded BIR Regional Director Romulo Aguila Jr. that such regulation was suspended in 2007, the director reportedly said the tax hike was only suspended under the Arroyo administration but not under the present administration.
"It's a hold-up! The thousands of jeepney operators in the whole of Central Luzon are being compelled by the BIR to pay as much as P11,000 worth of old and new taxes and penalties. Where do they expect us to get that kind of money given that we are not even earning enough to buy our most basic daily needs?" Gueco asked.
The transport groups called on President Benigno Aquino III to act quickly on the issues of frequent oil price increases and overpricing of oil products, as well as on the immediate suspension of the recent tax increase by the BIR on jeepneys.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on March 31, 2011.