By SENATOR FRANCIS N. TOLENTINO
Our strength as a nation and as a people is greatly challenged by this current COVID-19 pandemic. Even more challenged perhaps in this time of crisis is the wisdom and unity of national and local leaders on ensuring the health and safety of Filipinos and delivering us all from this dark hour. During these hard pressed chapters of our history, and now more than ever, the people and the government will have to be joined by a shared vision, by common goals, by our collective faith in divine protection and healing.
Undeniably, the economic impact of this COVID-19 catastrophe continues to create an unimaginable chain reaction that will extend even far beyond the virus’ annihilation. According to a recent study by the Asian Development Bank, the Philippine economy is projected to lose around US$ 1.939 billion in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and nearly 252,000 jobs will be dissolved.The longer this outbreak lasts, the greater the irreparable damage it will create – not only in the nation’s economy, but even more deeply in the lives of millions of Filipinos already struggling even before this pandemic shook the world.
In light of the harsh economic realities that we confront and the realities we expect to face as this COVID-19 crisis continues to cripple the world, this humble representation calls for the extension of the filing of income tax returns beyond the April 15 deadline. While this may not be a novel proposal, as Italy and China have already ruled for an extension in the filing of income tax returns, I believe that a similar measure will alleviate the plight of our overburdened taxpayers who continue to shoulder the brunt of the outbreak’s impact. An extension on the filing of income tax returns until May 15 would be a sigh of relief that can create a significant difference for grappling individuals and businesses.
No one can be certain when this malady will end. What only remains assured is that we have a government exhausting all resources and energy possible in order to address present and emerging public health and security concerns, as well as ensuring that citizens’ welfare is placed at the forefront of the polices and measures undertaken. In these times of great distress and confusion, we ought to realize our vulnerability and that it is our individual responsibility, not the government’s alone, to keep ourselves and our communities COVID-19 free. Let us be united in prayer that our faith – in God and in one another – will pull us through.