Press Release
March 6, 2008


Senator Mar Roxas bewailed the rising incidence of poverty from 2003 to 2006 as reported by the National Statistical Cordination Board (NSCB), which said that the continued imposition of high taxes and rise in oil prices had worsened the problem.

"Ipinapakita lang nito na ang pamahalaan ngayon ay bising-bisi sa pag-cover up ng mga kontrobersiya, samantalang hindi naman nito naaatupag ang pagbibigay ng agarang ginhawa sa taumbayan sa kabila ng nagtataasang presyo ng langis at ng iba pang bilihin," he said.

"I urge the government to look at these statistics seriously and not brush off the issue by harping on the rising stock market and rising peso, which has also been hurting our exporters and dollar earning OFWs," Roxas said.

The reported 2.5% rise in poverty incidence from 2003 to 2006 from 24.4% to 26.9%, he said, clearly showed a disconnect between the financial markets and the grass roots economy, and a widening gap between rich and poor. From 4 million poor families in 2003, this went up to 4.7 million in 2006.

He said his Senate Bill No. 1962, seeking a suspension on the value-added tax (VAT) on oil products, could provide relief to the people by reducing costs in the consumption of oil products, which are a necessity in the daily life of Filipinos. The measure would remove P4 of VAT per liter of diesel and P65 of each LPG tank.

"Maantig na sana ang pamahalaan sa araw-araw na hinaing ng taumbayan na dulot ng pagtaas ng presyo ng langis, at makita nilang hindi sapat ang ginagawa nito ngayon, na nauuwi lang sa "token-ism," he said.

"Let's push for real and relevant solutions to aid Filipinos and boost their weakened spending power," Roxas said.

He noted that world crude reached a record $103 per barrel last week, and local companies have raised their prices by P0.50 per liter, with the government also raising oil tariffs from 1% to 2%.

"It was only last month that the government committed to finding ways to cope with the problems of high oil prices. They apparently have resorted to tokenisms such as tariff reductions that have had little impact on alleviating the plight of our people," he said.

Roxas' bill is being deliberated at the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, and a counterpart bill has been filed at the House of Representatives by fellow Liberal Party stalwart and Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio "Jun" Abaya.

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