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Slow TRAIN cash transfers highlight govt’s insensitivity–IBON

“The poor will get relief about three months into suffering TRAIN-induced price increases with millions of others only getting it much later.”

 Research group IBON said that the slow implementation of the Duterte administration’s social mitigation measures including its cash subsidies highlights how these are just an afterthought to cover up how the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion’s (TRAIN) program is anti-poor and pro-rich. TRAIN was railroaded last year to already be able to raise revenues starting January 2018 even if the supposed mitigation measures were not yet clear.

This is in reaction to the Department of Finance (DOF) announcement about the looming implementation of the government’s unconditional cash transfer (UCT) to supposedly help the 10 million poorest Filipino families cope with the impact of TRAIN. The DOF said that the 4.4 million existing Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries and three (3) million indigent senior citizens will start receiving the Php200 per month cash subsidy in March. The balance of 2.6 million households are supposed to start receiving theirs in August.

IBON executive director Sonny Africa noted that the DOF was last year quick to undertake the staff work for raising taxes on the poor and giving income tax relief to the rich. Yet, in contrast, it was grossly unprepared to implement any of the supposed social mitigation measures even nearly two months into the law’s effectivity. As it is, the poor will get relief about three months into suffering TRAIN-induced price increases with millions of others only getting it much later in August or after eight months.

Africa also said that the DOF was merely scrambling to report 10 million helped “no matter how sloppy the figures.” “The numbers don’t even add up,” he said, “because many of the 3.3 million poor elderly will likely already be among the 4.4 million CCT beneficiary households so double-counting is already happening, more so two or more elderly are in these poor households.”

Meanwhile, TRAIN’s promised fuel subsidies for public utility vehicles (PUVs), fare discounts for the poor and other social mitigation measures still remain unrealized, said Africa.

Lastly, Africa said, it is worth repeating that the cash subsidies are temporary and only from 2018 to 2020. “These are also the three years when oil taxes keep rising and prices keep getting pushed up higher and higher,” Africa noted. “The real TRAIN shock happens in 2021 when the UCT gimmick is gone but the prices that the poor pay for their basic goods and services will be immensely higher,” he said. (IBON News / February 27, 2018)

Taguiwalo admits ‘tolerating’ Kadamay members, poor citizens

FOLLOWING accusations the Department of Social Welfare and Development is “tolerating” Kadamay members who occupied vacant housing units in Bulacan province by giving them assistance, Secretary Judy Taguiwalo called a press conference last Friday.

Taguiwalo tried presenting and discussing other DSWD programs but majority of journalists present were focused on the agency’s distribution of food packs in Pandi, Bulacan last week and on accusations the agency is giving special treatment to the “occupiers.”

Taguiwalo said all of DSWD’s programs are for the poor.  She said the agency is always ready to give help to those who ask, especially the poor.
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Progressives protest, House approves death penalty bill

THE government must focus on ending poverty and its roots instead of killing the poor, progressive groups said at a rally at the House of Representatives yesterday said.

The protesters, led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, marched to last March 7 in protest of House Bill 4727 that seeks to re-impose death as punishment for drug-related crimes.

The Lower House nonetheless approved the bill on its third and final reading last night, with 216 congressmen voting in favor, 54 against and one abstaining. Read more

NAPC leads anti-poverty mapping conference

National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) lead convenor Liza Maza and consultant James Miraflor present the database launch of Tala ng Bayan laban sa Kahirapan (Talambayan), a multidimensional approach to assess and map poverty in the country. Miraflor noted that “where there is development like urbanization, pockets of poverty also arise.”

The event is the first such consultation organized by NAPC under Maza that culminated in the launch of the anti-poverty movement called Talambayan.

It was held at the B Hotel in Quezon City last November 10-11.

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One Billion Rising 2017 to focus on violence of poverty

One Billion Rising international coordinator Monique Wilson led the launch of the fifth year of its annual event with the theme “Solidarity against exploitation of women.”

Through dances and songs it has popularized since 2011, Wilson said their next celebration would focus on poverty and how it worsens the other injustices they suffer.

The One Billion Rising campaign again expects millions of women to gather on February 14 in countries all over the world.

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Kidapawan victim’s dad charges ‘witness’ for perjury

EBAO SULANG, father of Kidapawan shooting victim Darwin Sulang, filed perjury charges against Senate witness Charlie “Longhair” Pasco at the Department of Justice yesterday.

Pasco testified before Senate investigative committee hearings last April that the younger Sulang was carrying a gun when he was gunned down during a violent dispersal of protesting farmers last April 1. Read more