Duterte's anti-people legislative agenda

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During the past five years, Rodrigo Duterte along with his minions in Congress pushed for the enactment of several anti-people, anti-democratic and neoliberal laws. By railroading these laws, Duterte was able to bankrupt the economy and bury the people in hardships.

Economic liberalization

In a speech last June 16, Duterte urged Congress to prioritize the passage of four neoliberal laws which seek to allow 100% foreign ownership in economic sectors that are reserved for Filipinos, and to lighten the tax burden of capitalists.

He said he wants the Public Services Act (PSA), Foreign Investment Act (FIA), Retail Trade Liberalization Act (RTLA), as well as the third and fourth package of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) on his desk for signature “at the earliest possible time.” These measures will liberalize ownership of public lands, natural resources, institutions in the education sector, transportation, mass media, retail trade and investment.

The two CTRP packages, on the other hand, aim to reduce taxes shouldered by capitalists under the pretext of simplifying real estate taxes and capital income, and streamlining investment taxes.

Duterte is expected to once again push these measures in his State of the Nation Address this coming July 26, as well as the passage of amendments to economic provisions of the constitution through the Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 2. The FIA and RTLA already hurdled Congress on third reading, while the PSA and RBH No. 2 on second reading.

Earlier in 2018, Duterte enacted the Rice Liberalization Act which paved the way for the influx of imported rice in the local market which ultimately resulted in huge income losses among local rice farmers. In 2020 alone, rice farmers lost about ₱90 billion in income. Anakpawis Partylist reported that a decline in production were recorded in at least 27 provinces due to government neglect and liberalization of the sector. This was while rice prices in the local market increased by up to 31% during the said period.

Oppressive tax increases

The most burdensome policy implemented by Duterte is his tax reform program now directly being shouldered by the people. Since the beginning of his term, he enacted the TRAIN Law which levied additional taxes on consumer goods and petroleum products which resulted in increases in the prices of basic commodities.

At the onset of the pandemic, he levied a 10% increase on oil imports, as well as taxes on small online entrepreneurs. The regime now targets to impose taxes taxes on online services and other food products.

While burdening ordinary people with additional taxes, he cut the income tax of big corporations from 30% to 25% through the second TRAIN law dubbed the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises or Create Law which was enacted in 2020. The government is expected to lose approximately ₱251 billion in tax revenues during first two years of the law, at a time when the government is in dire need of it. The law also gives corporations several tax incentives.

Anti-democratic policies

Duterte is also notorious for enacting laws to suppress his political rivals along with their businesses. Amid the pandemic in July 2020, Duterte railroaded the Anti-Terrorism Law which violates universal human rights. This primarily targets the regime’s critics.

In May 2020, Duterte pushed his supermajority in Congress to block the application for franchise renewal of ABS-CBN. The network has earned Duterte’s ire which it accused of not airing his presidential campaign ads in 2016. In 2018, Duterte’s also moved to block budget allocations to opposition lawmakers.

Duterte's anti-people legislative agenda