Editor's note: For many middle-class workers, the income tax system during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III is unreasonable. Kami columnist Hazel Dhane A. Bautista agrees on this and shares her thoughts also on real estate tax issues.
Every administration has its own highs and lows. Given that the government is made up of and led by inherently flawed individuals, no administration is perfect; thus, it is always the subject of public criticism.
Former President Benigno "PNoy" Aquino III gave all he can during his six-year term. In fact, the economy of the Philippines boomed to a 6.2% average economic growth, undoubtedly the highest in the past forty years. He also made history by being the only president who sued China in an international court over the West Philippine Sea dispute. Recently, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines.
Despite these what seem to be the stellar achievements of his leadership, bottom-ground difficulties also arose. The transportation system of the country and traffic have become the butt of the jokes of Filipinos, naturally known as happy and humorous people, especially when the tough had gone tougher. Travel duration within the metro may last for hours during the morning and evening rush hours. Some say plane rides would take lesser time. And now that the rainy season has started, both commuters and car owners desperately shout for the hands of the government to intervene.
Another problem is the excessively burdensome taxes imposed on income. During the times when the Congress was still in the process of passing the bill governing the value added tax, countrymen are promised of lessening income tax rates, shifting the burden from the revenue aspect to consumption aspect. Today, it is evident that workers earning fixed income have no other option but to pay more taxes than the wealthiest businessmen. This injustice continues to grow since inflation overran unadjusted tax brackets. Wages of workers, earned through blood and sweat, should not be withheld from them by imposing taxes. Rather, extravagant consumption should be taxed.
In the battle of oppression, the past administration was seen on the other side of the fence, fighting against the people it should be fighting for. The team of Aquino terribly failed in this significant aspect and ended up almost eradicating the earning power of the middle class.
The good news is that administration now remains to be a shadow of the past. Looking forward to what lies ahead, more than 15 million Filipinos voted for incumbent President Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte in high hopes for a radical change. Vice President Maria Leonora "Leni" Robredo also expresses vibrant outlook toward this much-desired change. Although the chief executive has been stressing on his war against drugs, crimes, and corruption, his undeniable heart for the poor surely includes passing laws with the end view of uplifting the lives of his countrymen.
READ ALSO: Duterte administration to increase VAT?
One good measure from the recently concluded 16th Congress was House Bill 1649. The bill was one of the significant works of the legislature that would surely come to rescue many if only passed because it aims to alleviate the burden of paying real estate taxes. I do hope that this soon would be written again in a better guise. The measure was supposed to exclude the family home from the real property tax coverage. By doing so, it guarantees families of peaceful residence without a future threat of being tossed out due to failure to pay such hefty taxes. There would be lesser worry and more productivity for all.
Cancer-stricken Miriam Defensor-Santiago also suggested to erase estate taxes, citing the reality that estate tax cases take more than ten years to be resolved. The former senator also used to be a judge. Her view, however, met an opposition by the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), an association of groups of local government units. The latter believes that such proposal weakens the already-collapsing authority of LGUs in raising funds for their respective areas. Such conflicting views are in the meantime premature for Duterte eyes a shift to federalism, a new form of government conceived to disperse concentrated powers from the central government to federal units.
All in all, much still remains to be done. As responsible citizens of this democratic country, we must not continue gazing on the disappointing tax system of the country, but rather look up to God for wisdom and renewed expectations and actively participate in important matters the nation is dealing. After all, we all hope for the best Philippines we could be.
Hazel Dhane A. Bautista is currently taking up Bachelor of Laws at San Beda College of Law. She is also a member of Philippine Constitution Association.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Kami.com.ph.