By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares expressed his disappointment with President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday, particularly with the excise tax and the importation of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Prior to the speech, his group already announced they would be holding a protest rally as the speech was being delivered.
The former congressman noted he previously filed a bill before the House of Representatives seeking lower income taxes; however, the president has since pushed for excise taxes on sugar and petroleum products.
“Duterte joined these two tax issues together,” he explained. “One is tax reform and one is ‘not really’ tax reform because you are imposing [an] excise tax.”
Including the issue of HFCS, he added, “I don’t think we can survive.”
Colmenares speculated, “It is not far-fetched to think the hunger and famine during the time of Joel Abong will return in Negros.” Abong was the emaciated Negrense child captured in a photo during the 1980s, shown to be suffering from extreme malnutrition.
He added, the fuel excise tax alone could create a ripple effect on the sugar industry, citing both factories and the trucks used to haul sugarcanes use fuel.
The Diocese of Bacolod, meanwhile, criticized Duterte’s push for the return of capital punishment.
In his speech, the president referred to the policy as “Not only a deterrence, but retribution.”
Diocese spokesperson, Fr. Jonas Sumagaysay, asked, while they respect the law of the state, “What about the law of God?”
General Alliance of Workers Association (GAWA) Secretary-General Wennie Sancho also offered his observation, saying there were some good points but it was marred by “unnecessary remarks.”
He also believed the president has “forgotten the labor sector.”/WDJ