The rich for the sound bite, the poor have nothing to bite

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Sunday, August 10, 2014


HIGH PRICES -- Can you imagine some weeks ago the market price of the lowly onion, a very common product of Nueva Ecija province, went up the roof and reached almost P400 per kilo. In the early years, when I was still in my shorts, and my mother Beatriz was running a carinderia in the public market of Porac, I can even ask for free some pieces from the corner store. How in heaven's name that happened? Good thing, weeks later the price cascaded to its level.

It is not only onion prices breaching the roof but many basic market commodities. And economic students are taught that prices and wages are related. A family of four, the father earning P400 per day can't send the two kids to school if they are renting an apartment. The water and electric bills are monthly concerns. Medicines and transport fares, plus, plus... The P400 will not last a day.

TOO MANY POOR PEOPLE -- Malacañang is always claiming that there is a dramatic increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and off-shore rating agencies like Fitch and Standard and Poors' statistic are in accord. But do they really ask the wage earners? (The GDP, by the way, is the total output in production and services.)

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The GDP is being used by the administration as a disguise to an imagined success but the reality on the ground many families can hardly cope up. Maybe to some people living on gated subdivisions, and the corrupt people in government find life easy in this country with them sending their kids to exclusive schools, vacationing abroad and splurging for signature brands in Italy and elsewhere. "But what about us?" asked the school kids whose families are in the squatter colonies.

WAGES AND TAXES -- How many times we've heard that death and taxes are sure things. Accepted. But what cannot be accepted by the common workers why the Bureau of Internal (BIR) has to impose a cut on their allowances and other bonuses like Christmas and 13th month pay. And at 20 percent at that. Wow! Bonuses are not wages. They are given for special reasons, maybe because of extra expenses on celebration of seasons.

The taxes collected from common workers can be likened to a small catch of the fisherman caught from shallow waters. If the fisherman (BIR) go to the mid-sea where there are the big fishes (Chinoy tycoons, Kastilaloy property developers, casino operators, importers, manufacturers, mall operators, etc etc) maybe it can spare the small fries.

THE RICH PEOPLE -- President Noynoy Aquino was born rich. He grew up in an hacienda where there are maids whom he can ask what kind of food he wanted to eat for dinner. Same thing with our many senators, congressmen, cabinet members, agency heads and even magistrates. When interviewed by media their hearts and concerns are for the poor. But I suspect that is only for sound bite. Lip service, they call it. Malacañang claims it has big savings. Then scale down the deducted taxes on the pay envelopes of workers from 20 percent to 10 percent, and spare the bonuses. The poor have nothing to bite dinner time.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 11, 2014.

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