Philippine church and consumer activists launch a campaign in Manila for the repeal of the country's new tax law on Feb. 21. (Photo by Mark Saludes)
Church and consumer rights groups in the Philippines have launched a campaign demanding the repeal of a new tax reform law they claim burdens the poor.
The campaign aims to gather a million signatures to force legislators to stop the implementation of the new Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act that took effect in January.
Rev. Jerome Baris, national coordinator of the justice, peace, and human rights ministry of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, said, taxation "should not target the poor."
"The painful effects of the tax reform law are now being experienced by many people," the Protestant pastor said.
The new tax law lowers personal income taxes for workers but imposes higher duties on fuels, cars and sweetened beverages.
The government says that the implementation of the new tax law will raise US$150 billion that will be spent infrastructure projects in the coming years.
Independent think-tank Ibon Foundation said slapping additional taxes on oil products makes the law "anti-poor" because it doubles taxes through excise duties on top of the value-added tax.
"It will inevitably affect 60 million Filipinos who live on very low incomes," it said in a statement.
Excise tax on oil products, such as diesel, is expected to increase to up to US $0.10 per liter from the US$0.05 per liter this year.
The government's National Economic and Development Authority said the tax reform law will boost consumer and manufacturing demand, but warned that its inflationary pressure could also impact on the cost of production.