MANILA, Philippines — A recent statement made by President Benigno Aquino urging the public to pay correct taxes has earned a rebuttal from many labor groups, business leaders and citizens; all with a common message: Use taxes correctly.
Business leaders who were encouraged by the President to join the Integrity Initiative and take the Unified Code of Conduct seriously understood the sentiment of the statement made. Mr. Dee D. Dy, a member of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce was asked about his reaction regarding this matter. “How does the government expect us to take this Integrity Initiative and Unified Code of Conduct seriously when our government agencies are not doing the same”, Mr. Dy said.
“Instead of using taxpayer’s money in coining terms and lingoes to be used in speeches like Integrity Initiative and Unified Code of Conduct, the government should instead focus it’s effort on improving existing infrastructures and double it’s efforts against corruption, on the majority, if not all, of government agencies” Mr. Dy added.
Rumors that the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) came up with the term Unified Code of Conduct started to surface. This, after certain groups noticed a similarity with a previous term that the MMDA has used, the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program. MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino could not be be reached for comment when asked about the rumor.
Transport groups who were against the implementation of VAT on toll this coming October sensed the irony of the situation. A member of PISTON was heard saying ” Adding VAT on toll is a great insult to the many commuters of this country.” This, after the palace arranged a dialog with leaders of the transport sector held recently at Malacañang.
Local residents who were interviewed for this article also expressed the same outrage upon being informed of the President’s statement. A local vendor, who wishes to stay anonymous have this to say: “parang nasa buwan ang kalye sa tapat ng amin! Kaliwa’t kanan may lubak. Bubuhusan nga ng aspalto, kaso tuwing tag-ulan naman!” (“the street in front of my house resembles the surface of the moon! Potholes are to be seen left and right. They do pour asphalt, but during rainy season nonetheless!”)
“Mapapangako ba ng gobyerno na kung magbayad ako ng tamang buwis eh, cemento na ang gagamitin nila sa susunod? Hindi diba?” (Can the government promise to use cement if we pay the correct taxes? I don’t think so?!) added another passerby.