Friday, September 11, 2009

Oro 2nd district representative vows to block text tax again

CAGAYAN JOURNAL (Susan Palmes / Sept 11) - CAGAYAN de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of the city’s 2nd District yesterday expressed his opposition to the proposed five-centavo tax for every text message sent.

Rodriguez said, ‘‘I am opposed... this is an additional burden.’’

Rodriguez said the text tax move was blocked in the past by him and other congressmen. He said the same group would oppose fresh moves to get Congress’ green light.

‘‘We have tried our best to lower (the rate). In fact, we have our hearing in Congress to reduce the tax,” Rodriguez said.

He said the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) has recently issued an order to lower the tax passed on to the users. ‘‘And now this.’’

He said taxes such as this should be shouldered by the companies and not by the users.

‘‘This is not a ‘sin tax’ like the taxes we impose on liquor and cigarettes. Majority of the 92 million Filipinos could only afford texting as a means of communication,” Rodrriguez said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang cited three conditions for the administration to support a proposal to tax text messages.

Deputy spokespersons Anthony Golez and Gary Olivar said the tax should not be passed on to users. Also, they added, it must be made clear how the tax is implemented and who should shoulder it; and, finally, the tax must be utilized for specific purposes such as education, healthcare or computerization.

The proposed measure, now at the committee level of the Lower House, still has to pass through debates and periods of amendments in the plenary session.

Unfortunately, according to Golez, candidates in next year’s elections are now using the proposal to advance their political interests. He said however that people would see through them.

Olivar said short message service (SMS) is the most popular form of communication for Filipinos, especially overseas based workers. “We must not pass on the tax burden to the consumers and the Palace will make sure of this,” Golez said.

He said Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s stance on the text tax issue “is not (meant) to protect the telcos but to make sure that the tax is not passed on to the consumers.”

“He is just consistent with his protection for consumers even when he previously investigated the missing load issue in the Senate hearings,” he said. - with reports from PNA


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