Press Release
January 10, 2008


Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla strongly opposed the proposal of taxing text messages as a buffer from the oil tax reduction, as he warned the government of depriving the poor of a reliable and affordable means of communication.

The senator stressed that the proposal of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Peter Favila to slap tax on SMS messages would be regarded as anti-poor because text messaging is an inexpensive and popular form of communication in the country.

"Unlike the oil tariff reduction, the tax on text messages will be felt instantly by millions of Filipino cell phone owners and will backfire to the government by means of public condemnation. While I may be amenable on the possible increase in sin taxes, I still need to be convinced that new taxes are indeed necessary," said Revilla.

The lawmaker said tax on SMS messages is not the answer to the proliferation of text messages containing scams and rumors, especially on destabilization attempts.

Revilla pointed the cellphone users nowadays are more vigilant against text messages coming from anonymous senders and he dismissed the claim that imposing a tax on SMS messages could make Filipinos shift their focus on endeavors that are more productive.

"We should not forget that our poor and middle-class countrymen rely on texting not only to communicate to their loved ones and friends but also to transact business, whether they are street vendors or small-time exporters. They will be the ones who will be directly hit by this unwelcome proposal, "he explained.

The senator said he is not convinced that new taxes are necessary because this would be an added burden to the public. "We have already asked our people to tighten their belts with the imposition of the 12 percent VAT last year, will we ask them to tighten their belts once more?," Revilla said.

Instead, Revilla urged the government to further strengthen collection of already existing taxes to cover revenue losses from oil tariff reduction.

"The government should intensify campaign against smugglers and those underpaying their tax obligations. We should increase tax collection at the same time decrease government spending," he added.

The tax on text messaging which has been floated a few years back could raise, if properly collected, roughly P40.2 billion a year for the government, a recent study conducted by the National Tax Research Center (NTRC) showed.

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