Tarlac Congressman Vic Yap: ‘Government should not tax the poor’

Congressman Victor Yap of the Second District of Tarlac said "the government should not tax the poor" as he attacked the House Bills (HBs) 4774 and 4468.2 min

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Tarlac City, Philippines — Congressman Victor “Vic” Yap of the Second District of Tarlac said “the government should not tax the poor” as he attacked the House Bills (HBs) 4774 and 4468, which intend to tax cooperatives like small and ordinary businesses.

“The removal of any exemption that caters to the poor will certainly be passed back to the poor,” Vic Yap said.

This developed as thousand of cooperative members held a rally at the Maria Cristina Park in Tarlac City on April 29 against House Bills 4774 and 4468.

The mass rally was organized by the Tarlac Provincial Cooperative Council chaired by his sister Governor Susan Yap-Sulit.

The House Bills 4468 was authored by Representative Dakila Carlo R. Cua, while the other one 4774 was endorsed by Congressman Joey S. Salceda. Both bills are intended to generate more revenues to the Philippine government by revising the National Income and Revenue Code (Republic Act 9337).

However, the House Bill 4688 also revokes the Article 61 (2)(B) of the Republic Act 9520, which particularly provides for tax exemptions to cooperatives.

Cooperatives, under the Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008 (Republic Act 9520) and 9337, are exempted from other taxes.

During the “anti-HB 4468/4774 rally,” officials from the different cooperatives of the province took turns in criticizing the house bills which they claim are anti-poor.

Bernie Fajardo, the chairman of the Tamogepa Transport Service Cooperative, criticized the intent of the house bills and said:

“Why are the elected representatives taxing the poor? Why don’t they tax big business and big-time tax evaders? Wasn’t it reported that government gave a big oil company an over P200-billion tax discount? Why are they making the poor suffer more?”

Fajardo’s colleagues has been complaining the more than 200 unregistered UV (utility vehicles) vans have been traveling their franchise route since 2010.

Meanwhile, Sol Gonzales, the chairman of the Abagon Compact Farm and Seeds Growers Multi-Purpose Cooperative of Gerona, Tarlac, stated that “once co-ops are imposed with taxes, they will lose their competitiveness and this will eventually lead to the closing down of cooperatives.”

“Electricity and water are basic needs. The best and most equitable way we can give the poor an advantage is not to tax them. But those consuming higher could be taxed,” said Vic Yap, who is a former three-term governor of Tarlac province.

Nap Ferrer, one of the local critics of the two house bills, said that the effect of taxing electric cooperatives will hike the cost of power rates and this will be passed on to the masses and most specially to the poor customers.

The vast majority of the households in Tarlac province are powered by the Tarlac Electric Cooperative (Tarelco) I and II. Tarelco’s power rate cost around P10 per-kilowatt-hour, while the privately owned power distributor Tarlac Electric Inc., which powers the entire Tarlac City, charges more than P12 per kWh.

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Jullie Anne Mendoza
Jiliane is a Manila-based writer who covers the business, political science and science, the firms that are leading that charge, as well as those that are left behind. She has been writing since 2000, most recently for BuzzFeed Philippines.