Tag Archives: Nagkaisa!

Duterte’s TRAIN will Collide with Workers’ Livelihood

Workers belonging to the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) and the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) today picketed the Senate to express their opposition to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Exclusion or TRAIN.

The labor groups, both members of NAGKAISA Labor Coalition, believe that tax reform is long overdue. For years, workers have been demanding a shift from taxing consumption (a regressive tax system) to one that is based on income (progressive taxation). Unfortunately, Duterte’s TRAIN, as it is currently crafted, is taking the wrong way.

“We welcome lower tax on personal income but reject the regressive impact of excise taxes,” Gerry Rivera, president of PALEA said. “With TRAIN, the government intends to ease our tax burden by forgoing P140 billion in personal income tax, only to collect from us P190 billion through VAT-based expansion and excise taxes!,” Rivera added.

This morning, the Senate is holding a public hearing on TRAIN, specifically on the excise taxes it will impose on petroleum products. The Department of Finance (DOF) proposed to earmark 40% of the PHP 73.7 billion incremental revenues from the oil excise tax (for 2018 alone) to fund targeted transfers through Pantawid Pasada program and the Jeepney Modernization Plan.

The Jeepney Modernization program of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will phase out PUJs that are older than 15 years. The program will forcibly replace 205,000 of the 234,000 registered jeepneys that are currently in use in the country. Initially, the DOTR wanted to extend new franchises only to big operators who able to deploy at least 10 jeepneys. “Had we not launched transport strikes against this policy, the DOTr would have displaced at least 410,000 drivers and small operators by now,” Cruz said.

“The tragic thing is, government wants to take away our livelihood from us by phasing out our jeepneys,” Ernie Cruz, national president of the National Confederation of Transportworkers Unions (NCTU), bemoaned. “Now it is saying that it would tax us to death in order to modernize our jeepneys,” Cruz added.

“The problem is, the government has yet to demonstrate that their Jeepney Modernization Plan is accessible to ordinary jeepney drivers and operators,” Cruz complained. “The DOF, through the TRAIN, in its current form, may just succeed where the DOTr failed – deprive us of our livelihood,” Cruz declared.

The labor groups support NAGKAISA’s position to prioritize tax administration reform and de-link personal income tax from regressive tax measures.

“We call on the Senate to pass the personal income tax (PIT), but derail the rest of the TRAIN for now,” Rivera declared.

Nagkaisa dismayed over Duterte’s non-mention of security of tenure in SONA

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition expressed dismay over the SONA of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for failing to address the issue of contractualization. “His silence is a great disappointment for workers as we were expecting him to announce the release of an executive order prohibiting all forms of contracualitzation,” Nagkaisa said.

“For two hours, we were waiting for President Duterte to certify as urgent House Bills 4444 and 556 on Security of Tenure, but no announcement came,” Nagkaisa added.

It could be recalled that during a dialogue with Nagkaisa and other labor groups on Labor Day in Davao City, President Duterte vowed to look into releasing an executive order. “That issuance would have superceded DOLE DO 174 released in late March that not only failed to prohibit all forms of contractualization, but abetted it,” Nagkaisa said. He set a deadline of May 10 for labor groups to submit a draft EO.

“Nagkaisa, the National Anti-Poverty Commission, KMU and other labor groups submitted a common, unified draft two days before the deadline. Two and a half months later, we still haven’t gotten any feedback,” Nagkaisa said.

Nagkaisa also expressed deep concern over President Duterte’s announcement of right-sizing in government.

“How can they talk about right-sizing when there are 595,000 job orders and contracts of service workers performing essential functions in government? They are the overworked and underpaid in government, many of whom are health workers and teachers,” Nagkaisa said.

Nagkaisa is not pleased with the Tax Reform Package Bill in its present form, so it did not welcome President’s Duterte’s endorsement of it.

“Tax Reform Administration should be the first tax measure that Congress approves in order to improve tax collection and prosecute tax evaders. We also support the reduction of Personal Income Tax (PIT), but reject the lowering of Corporate Income Tax (CIT). It is the taxes on profits that should be increased,” Nagkaisa added.

“Besides, adding on to the tax burden of workers at this point in time would be a double whammy as it seems our taxes will be used to fund the war in Mindanao,” Nagkaisa said.

The President defended the extension of Martial Law for much of his SONA. NAGKAISA reiterates its opposition to the extension or expansion of Martial Law based on the following grounds:
1. It is not necessary;
2. It will be very expensive;
3. It is unproductive and is a disincentive to economic progress;
4. It weakens our democratic institutions; and
5. It strengthens the hands of the totalitarians.

“We believe that lawlessness in many forms can be addressed by a highly professional and effective military/police leadership. Ensuring professionalism and quality armed services is where Presidential powers are best exercised,” Nagkaisa said.

On Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Package 1

NTRC graph image

Labor coalition welcomes lower tax on personal income but rejects regressive impact of excise taxes.

Workers have long been demanding for higher tax exemptions, hence, the approval by the House of Representatives of Package 1 of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) is a welcome relief.

Under the TRAIN, income lower than P250,000 per year will be tax free while higher income brackets, except for those who earn more than P5 million, will be charged a lowered tax rate of 25% from the current high of 32%.

This is surely a welcome development. But for the labor coalition Nagkaisa, the workers’ gain in Personal Income Tax (PIT) will be offset in a regressive manner by the imposition of excise taxes on fuel products and the lifting of VAT exemptions in the sale of specific goods and services.

“Everyone knows, not just workers, that it will increase prices of goods and services that would affect mostly the poor and those at the lower income brackets,” said Nagkaisa spokesman Renato Magtubo.

Magtubo said the TRAIN’s objective of shifting the tax burden from the poor to the rich, “Seems to be scheming if not tricky as forgone revenue on the side of the government, which is equivalent to individual savings derived from lower PIT of specific income group, shall be recovered in a universal manner through excise taxes and expanded VAT.”

The group explained further that the tax base can never be expanded through exemptions in PIT and corporate income, making indirect taxation through excise taxes and VAT expansion the main strategy in generating new and more revenue. “Otherwise, nobody is going to pay for the lost revenue,” added Magtubo.

Under TRAIN’s package 1, a P3.00-P6.00 excise taxes will be imposed per liter on fuel and P10 for locally produced sugary products while several VAT-exempt products and services will be lifted, including cooperative income exceeding the P3 million thresholds. Likewise, sale of real estate for socialized housing will now be covered by VAT.

According to the group, even the simulations made by staffs of the finance department showed the inevitable impact of increase in VAT payments by decile group – 43% for the richest 10% and 35% for the bottom 80%. Increase for the second richest 10% is 22%.

“An increase of 43 and 22 per cent respectively may mean nothing for the richest 20% who got significant savings from PIT exemptions. But a 35% increase is surely a burden for the bottom 80% who includes the majority in the formal and informal sector, employed and unemployed, of the working class. In the same manner everyone will be paying for the direct and indirect impact of excise taxes on fuel,” explained Magtubo.

The labor leader added that those living in SPUG areas which rely on diesel as their single source of power will be absorbing a “minimal” impact, according to DOF. But that would mean additional P84 for those who consume 100 kWh per month and P106 for those who consume 300 kWh.

“These are the immediate impact that will hit everyone while the poor wait for the promised transfers contained in the proposed expenditure programs of the government,” said Magtubo.

The group said it will intervene in the continuing deliberation of the tax package in Congress especially on the proposed lowering of income taxes for corporations from 30% to 25%.

“Our main question for this is why a tax rate on corporate income, which is supposed to be a tax on profit, is being lowered down to the same level of personal income which is a tax on labor? A uniform rate on business and personal income can never be considered progressive taxation,” concludes Magtubo.”

PRESS RELEASE
NAGKAISA
13 June 2017

Workers group sees danger in unqualified declaration of martial law for entire Mindanao

 

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition on Labor Day 2017

The Philippine Constitution under Article 7 Section 18 granted the President the power to declare a state of martial law. But such a declaration should meet certain requirements to justify suppression of lawless violence, invasion or rebellion and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

We condemn and will continue to oppose any act of terrorism perpetrated by any group in any part of the country. And while we recognize the power of the President to address security emergencies like this one, we also will not disregard the danger posed by unqualified use of military power to deal with security threats at the expense of democracy and basic human rights. Filipinos will never forget the dark days under fourteen years of martial law.

In line with this, we find the Moscow declaration of President Duterte placing the entire Mindanao under the state of martial law as worrisome as it came with yet to be qualified basis except for the pockets of violence that erupted yesterday in Marawi City between the military and the combined forces of Maute and Abu Sayaff groups. Why place the entire Mindanao under a state of martial law when the military itself claimed it is in full control of the situation?

Even the fire and storm of Misuari in Zamboanga nor the firefights in Ipil were not sufficient cause for a declaration of Martial Law. Indeed, if there is any lesson, Mindanaoans have demonstrated in the last 40 years, is that they best cooperate, cohabit and interact with each other WITHOUT Martial Law. The historical memory of the Filipino race has been so foreshadowed by the totalitarian menace that even now, we feel more threatened than secured by the State under Martial Law. Workers will never forget, especially when workers’ rights to organize, to bargain and to strike occupy such a low level of political esteem from the powers that be. We ask all to step back from the totalitarian temptation.

Furthermore, the Filipino people deserve the right to be properly informed on matters of national security especially when their rights and welfare are affected by executive decrees, including military actions that reign supreme over civilian authority during a state of martial law.

Lastly, we call on the Congress and the Supreme Court to exercise their oversight powers over the President on the issue of martial law, and for the Filipino people to remain vigilant during these difficult and challenging times.

NAGKAISA Labor Coalition
PRESS STATEMENT

NAGKAISA denounces misrepresentation of Ruben Torres and Usec Say on worker-DOLE consensus that contractualization cannot be prohibited

File photo

NAGKAISA, including the legitimate TUCP President Raymond Mendoza, a co-convenor of NAGKAISA and the author of HB No.4444 which will prohibit and criminalize contractualization, denounce in clear, categorical terms the underhanded attempt of Mr. Ruben Torres and apparently, DOLE Undersecretary Say, to misrepresent to media after the dialogue with Secretary Bello last Thursday, that a consensus was reached with labor leaders that contractualization is inevitable.

That is the very opposite of what legitimate labor federations under NAGKAISA, who constituted 90% of the groups meeting Sec. Bello last Thursday manifested jointly to the Secretary: That we rely on the Presidential promise to end contractualization, and that we look towards an Executive Order to proscribe it in the meantime and towards passage of a Presidentially-certified bill (in the guise of HB No.4444) which will end contractualization).

NAGKAISA is shocked and dismayed that news reports of the Worker-DOLE dialogue on how to end and prohibit contractualization are now being presented as a trade union-government lovefest where both sides reached the same conclusion: that contractualization is here to stay.

Their action constitutes the highest form of betrayal to workers who only want a fair deal. Ruben Torres’ acceptance of the continuation of contractualization for janitors, security guards and salesgirls is craven opportunism of the worst kind, sacrificing the lives of the poorest workers while invoking the name of trade unions for personal advancement. He clearly does not represent the true majority interest of labor.

Our true collective position remains firm: that contractualization is oppression of workers’ rights which allows employers to avoid giving workers a living wage and to deny them a decent life. This is the very reason that we requested that Sec. Bello work out our request for an audience with the President.

Furthermore, the seemingly coordinated statements of former Labor Secretary Ruben Torres, now resurrected and posing as a labor leader of a rump-group TUCP ( the DOLE itself has ruled with finality that his purported federation is not even a part of TUCP, and by that very logic Mr. Torres IS NOT EVEN A MEMBER of TUCP) and apparent partnering of DOLE Undersecretary Say, show the moral depravity that the enemies of workers will stoop to.

We will not allow this underhanded misrepresentation of our position to remain uncorrected. Mr. Torres and his co-horts the Eric Gutierrez-backed Roland de la Cruz , last seen, after their gleeful endorsement of the Presidential bid of Mar Roxas, are now trying to make themselves relevant as apologists of the unbridled free-market, labor-flexibilization schemes which the employers prefer as their justification to abuse the Filipino working class.

Mr. Torres is no way a part of the legitimate TUCP, nor of the larger workers movement. Media coverage would have it appear through their interviews that the meeting last Thursday at the DOLE between workers and top DOLE officials led by Secretary Bello was a veritable lovefest. What happened was the DOLE announced that they would have to go to the drawing board to do a new Department Order on contractualization NAGKAISA only reminded the DOLE that what they will craft, and the bill which we should ask be certified, live up to President Duterte’s promise: END IT! STOP IT!