On presidential chopper and taxes: An open letter to Kris Aquino

 

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From Kris Aquino’s Instagram account

Dear Kris,

Echoing your Kuya Noy’s absurd argument to justify that notorious presidential chopper ride you took to campaign for Mar Roxas, you bragged the 322 million pesos in taxes that you paid in the past seven years.

You reminded us that you’re consistently among the top individual taxpayers in the country. I will not argue against the amount of money you contributed to public coffers. But let me respond to your outrageous entitlement complex.

First, the huge taxes that you paid don’t justify your blatantly illegal use of public resources to campaign for Kuya Noy’s candidates. It is plainly against the law (i.e. Omnibus Election Code). Unless your entitlement complex makes you think that you have 322 million valid reasons to do so.

Unless because you think that the Filipino people owe you and your family so much – you never fail to remind the public that your dad and mom (and now, Kuya Noy, too) had sacrificed so much for our country, that it is like the people’s “utang na loob” to the Aquinos our so-called democracy – that you are above the law.

Well, you are not. And we don’t owe you anything. Not the taxes that you pay, which are your legal obligations, and certainly not the fake democracy that massacres farmers in Mendiola and Hacienda Luisita.

Second, hindi lang ikaw ang nagbabayad ng buwis. Certainly, with your enormous wealth thanks to a lucrative showbiz career and Hacienda Luisita exploitation, you pay multiple times more than the impoverished workers in your hacienda and your TV production crew in terms of absolute pesos. But accounting for taxes paid should not work that way. What you and the oligarchs and their CEOs pay in taxes, hundreds of millions as they are, are actually peanuts relative to what you earn.

But for the ordinary wage earners, the daily MRT commuters, the taxes that they pay take away a big portion of what they get to bring home to their families.

The minimum wage in Metro Manila is just 481 pesos per day and the estimated amount needed to live decently in the capital is more than 1,000 pesos per day per family. A sugar plantation worker I have recently talked to said that their take home pay is just 150 pesos a day, which he said is just barely enough for their daily rice consumption.

And government squeezes taxes from them – whether through their income or their spending (like VAT). Worse, the super rich folks you rub elbow with, they pay the same income tax rate as those ordinary managers and supervisors. Your Kuya Noy vehemently opposed moves to correct this grave injustice.

Which brings me to my third point – these ordinary people, especially those who live hand-to-mouth, those who your Kuya Noy and his government squeeze dry for taxes, they are the ones who should be entitled – no, have the right – to more public resources.

Unlike you, they do not ask for a chopper ride so they won’t have to “walk three kilometers” to attend a Liberal Party sortie. What they ask for are rather simple and very basic services that the government should have been providing. You know, like public education, health services, decent housing or agricultural support.

Do you read the news, not only those that are favorable to Kuya Noy? Do you remember, or even know, Kristel Tejada? She was 16 years old. She committed suicide because she could not enroll at UP for an unpaid tuition of Php 10,000.

Do you know Ariel Leonor? He was 21 years old. He was shot dead by the police during the violent demolition of their poor community of about 25,000 families in Silverio Compound, Parañaque City.

Do you know Darwin Sulang? He was 22 years old. He was one of the two killed when the police opened fire at the farmers’ barricade in Kidapawan City. They were asking for rice because drought destroyed their crops and they have literally nothing to eat.

O, before you blame Gloria Arroyo, all these happened under your Kuya Noy’s watch. Kidapawan was like just three weeks ago, in case you missed it.

You see Kris, these young people died because your Kuya Noy’s government, which should have been providing basic services and assistance to the poor – not from your family’s massive wealth but from the taxes that the people (and not only you) pay – has abandoned them.

And you have the gall to justify your illegal chopper ride because you pay taxes? ###

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