So we’ve been hearing news about the Pork Barrel scam being ruthlessly stolen from under our noses. Remember that the pork barrel is money that comes from our taxes. And mind you, this is a huge amount of money. According to the controversial blog entry that exposed several Napoles stories, our government released more than P210 Trillion last year to be used for the pork barrel, or, also known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). If you haven’t read this blog entry, ask help from good old Google. You’re welcome.
If you’re the regular employee kind, know that you are paying at least 2 kinds of taxes. If you’re a businessman, more. If you’re a freelancer or a student, then you’ve been paying only VAT (Value Added Tax). If you buy something from a store that issues receipts—groceries from the mall, food from a fastfood chain, riding the taxi cab– you have no choice. You are still paying taxes.
We all know that corruption happens in exceptional proportions here in our country. Somehow, we’ve gotten accustomed to it and just go on with our lives. We know that whenever the elections come around, the road projects begin to hasten. We know that when we are asked to bid for projects, some people want “kickback”. We know that the cars and houses and mistresses of several politicians did not come from their legit businesses. We knew. We still know. But now that the Napoles scandal exploded, we were again reminded how much is stolen wide awake.
One of the commenters of that blog suggested that in order for this system to stop, we had to kill Napoles. And all the senators. And the congressmen. And everyone who had shady access to the PDAF. Although many took that as a joke, it was also meant to say that this system was very difficult to beat. So, as a small-time Juan, I think we all can do our own shares in lessening this– avoid taxes as much as we can and participate in movements.
In our own ways, we can just buy from smaller enterprises, not ask for receipts (or if possible, instruct the establishment NOT to issue you a receipt), hire freelancers and just do everything we can to avoid paying taxes! Of course government funds might not feel its pinch but if a lot of us do it, we might be surprised how many people support the tax boycott and hopefully, PNoy will do something about it. Because you know why? The silence is deafening. Only social media is noisy. Mainstream media is talking about different stuff. I think the only good thing that came out of this was Napoles’ warrant of arrest, an article about “Department of Finance studying to cut corporate income tax” and PNoy hinting that “It’s time to abolish the PDAF”. See, we deserved the buffet but they only gave us candy. All the other unlawful recipients of the PDAF scam are happily living their high-rise lives. All the others who know stuff about this are either paid or threatened so they’d just keep quiet.
What do we do? Just carry on with our lives? I say we participate in all social movements that seek to emphasize our protest to this. Employ our very own tax boycott. Share information with people we care about. Be vigilant. Question anomalies when we see them. Report. Even anonymous letters/ Tweets/ blogs work. Do whatever we can. Let them feel how much the silence is costing them. Things can still be done and people can still be punished. There are several reputable auditing firms in this country. The masses are still more than this shameless 5% who are enjoying our money. Let’s not give up on a happy ending on this story. However we put it, major fault is still upon us. We have learned to accept corruption as part of our system and just…carried on with our lives. *sigh*
This coming August 26, 2013 (Monday) at 9AM, several media people are supporting the Million People March, to happen at Rizal Park (in front of City Hall). No program, no speeches but we all hope everyone gets represented. As symbol of solidarity, everyone is encouraged to wear white. This is to represent the common tao, the real BOSSES and BOSES of a democracy. Hope to see you there!