The burden of TRAIN law on Filipino mothers

"Napaka-deceiving ng batas na yan," said Ana Borbe, 37-year old mother of 3. "Aalisan nga kami ng tax, pero yung bilihin tumaas, lahat tumaas…Sana bisitahin muna yung batas na yan, kung maari alisin na."

(That law is too deceiving... They will remove our tax, but the prices of goods have increased... I hope they revisit that law and, if possible, repeal it.)

Ana, a mother of elementary and high school students, said she has been struggling to keep them going to classes because there isn’t always enough on the budget for their transportation or school allowance. 

As a single mom, the struggle is even worse for her as her main income comes solely from contractual projects with the local government. With merely 20,000 a month, Ana has been surviving her children hand-to-mouth.

What could be done? 

Rather than having the poor families adjust, "Philippine Tax Whiz" Raymond Abrea said the government should regulate the prices on the market, and suspend the implementation of the law when the inflate rate exceeds a certain threshold "to avoid compromising the poor."

He added that the promised conditional cash transfer by the Department of Social Welfare and Development to the poorest 10 million households, should have been provided the same time the law was implemented. 

"The tax administration should have been given more time and budget to efficiently implement new tax laws, promote awareness and train its people including the taxpaying public," Abrea said. 

SINGLE MOM. Single mother Ana Borbe shows a photo of her and her 3 children, that she has been painstakingly raising on her own.

Photo by Eloisa Lopez/Rappler

"Since the poorest among us are really the most affected by price increases, the social mitigating measures like conditional cash transfer, discounts and free skill trainings should have been made available at the same time the new taxes were imposed to really “mitigate” or lessen its impact," Abrea added. 

Abrea however clarified that these subsidies are only meant to help and not fully provide. "Any subsidy will never be sufficient as long as the recipients rely solely on it."

His suggestion? Skill and capacity building, livelihood and entrepreneurship programs to train Filipinos to be more productive and financially independent. A good example, he said, is the Negosyo Centers under the Department of Trade and Industry. 

For Nancy, this could have been a good enough compromise. "Hindi mo dapat isisi sa gobyerno 'yung paghihirap mo, pero dapat marunong din magbalanse ang gobyerno ng mga patakaran," she said. (We shouldn't blame our sufferings on the government, but the government should learn to balance its policies as well.) –