Photo by Keith Magcaling
Text by Beatriz Zamora
With a new semester in tow, UP Diliman students and multisectoral groups urged the UP community to fight against the anti-people policies of the Duterte administration in a series of protests held yesterday.
“Nakabilin sa ating mga kabataan ang paglaban sa pamamasista ng rehimeng Duterte. Kasama natin ang mga maralita, kasama natin ang iba’t ibang sektor,” Student Regent Shari Oliquino said.
Progressive youth groups expressed their support for the UP community— vendors, jeepney drivers, and personnel— in light of the recent implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.
The TRAIN Law increases take-home pay of employees, cutting off tax reductions for those whose annual income amounts to P250,000. However, the prices of basic commodities are set to inflate, particularly petroleum and sugar-based products. In addition, not everyone with income lower than P250,000 will benefit from the TRAIN law because most of them are minimum wage earners.
“While not getting increased take home pay, they [the poor] will have to endure price hikes as a direct or indirect effect of higher consumption taxes,” stated think tank IBON Foundation.
The protests also condemned the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) closure order of Rappler. Inc, wherein the online news organization is accused of violating the Constitution which mandates local media to be owned by Filipinos.
UP College of Mass Communication Student Council (CMCSC) chairperson Mikko Ringia compared this with Marcos’ martial law era, wherein major news outfits were forced to shut down due to the dictatorship.
“Ang atake sa mga peryodista ay atake sa demokrasya, atake sa mga mamamayan,” Ringia said. He encouraged media practitioners to be one with the masses’ fight for democratic rights.
Union of Journalists of the Philippines – UP (UP) chairperson Mark Kevin Reginio emphasized this plea, saying that the recent turn of events are manifestations of the state’s refusal to side with its people.
Students carried over the protest to Village B and C, where they joined the local community in calling for the junking of the tax reform law.