By Genalyn Kabiling
The government could not just print money as much as it wants to but it actually needs taxes to deliver services to the public, President Duterte said Tuesday.
The President made the argument in rejecting calls for the suspension of the controversial tax reform program, which some groups have blamed for aggravating high food prices.
“Dapat malaman ng taong bayan that the only source of income… Kumbaga ako ‘yung Plipinong — bayang Pilipino, ang source ng bulsa ko kung saan ako, sa taxes. ‘Yung buwis na kinokolekta ko [The public must know that taxes I am collecting are the government’s only source of income],” Duterte said during a tête-à-tête with chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo in Malacañang aired live on government television.
“Hindi ako pwede dito sa Central Bank, utusan ko na mag-imprenta ka nang mag-imprenta hanggang isang milyong sakong pera [I cannot order the Central Bank to continue printing money until I have a million sacks of money],” he added.
The President earlier signed Republic Act No. 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act that allows lower personal income tax to offset higher taxes on fuel, cars, and sweetened beverages.
The law, which took effect early this year, has been blamed by some groups for contributing to the soaring prices of consumer goods. The country’s inflation has risen to 6.4 percent last August, prompting authorities to authorize the importation of more rice, fish and meat to boost supply and bring down prices in the market.
The proposed second TRAIN package, which seeks to lower the corporate income tax while rationalizing fiscal incentives, is pending in Congress.
To generate more jobs for Filipinos, the President said he would continue to attract more investors to do business in the country
Duterte, however, frowned on labor strikes influenced by the left-leaning Kilsan Mayo Uno, saying these demonstrations only dampen investor confidence. He was also concerned that workers would only end up jobless and hungry if companies shut down due to strikes.
“Nandiyan pa ‘yang KMU, sige strike. Strike-strike nila ‘di magsara. Sinong magutom? Pilipino [There’s KMU that always go on strike. Companies close down due to strikes. Who gets hungry? The Filipino],” he said.
“Walang negosyante ngayon magpapasok na after three months mag-strike kayo malugi ‘yung kapital niya [no investor will be interested that after three months, you will go on strike and he ends up losing his capital],” he added.
Duterte also expressed dismay with the influence of the communist group with street protests. He said he is not a god who could give everything they wanted.
“Ayaw magtrabaho gusto magsali ng strike. Eh ‘di ako hanggang diyan lang. At pagdating ng araw — sa gabi sabihin ko, sinabi ko na sa inyo eh. Anong gusto ninyo? Hindi ako Diyos. Kailangan ito hirap nang lahat.
[They prefer to go on strike than go to work. So I’m just here. When the time comes, I’ll tell you, ‘I told you so.’ What do you want? I am not a god. This is everyone’s hardship],” he said.
He maintained that if there are more factories in the country, more Filipinos will be employed.