Scrap foreign junkets in lieu of text tax — TXTPower

Consumer group TXTPower today challenged President Arroyo to declare a moratorium on her foreign travels to save precious public funds and negate the need for the imposition of a new tax on text.

TXTPower has long opposed any new tax on telecommunications.

“Mrs. Arroyo spent P692-million in public funds her 2005 and 2006 junkets alone. Another estimate is P8.2-billion for the past six to seven years,” said TXTPower president Anthony Ian Cruz.

Joining TXTPower in twin calls for the rejection the text tax and a moratorium on the President’s foreign travels are the Computer Professionals Union, the League of Filipino Students and the Kabataan Partylist.

“Just imagine how much money the Philippines will save if she declares an end to her jetsetting lifestyle,” said Cruz, adding that “Without these junkets, we wont need any new text tax and may abolish the much-hated value-added tax.”

“We have lost count of Mrs. Arroyo’s many foreign trips — has she flown out of the country 100 or 200 times since 2001?” Cruz asked.

True source of public cynicism

Cruz said Trade Sec. Peter Favila was “being ignorant, callous and imcompetent” in denigrating the value of texting to the public.

“Texting is the de facto messenging standard today, because it is cheap. It is important to the public. It is used principally for personal and official reasons. The true source of public cynicism is not texting but the Arroyo government and its abominable projects such as this text tax,” said Cruz.

Cruz said “perhaps Favila does not know anything about the costs of texting because the public pays for billions of pesos in the government’s communications expenses.”

Text, calls already taxed 2x

According to TXTPower vice president Vencer Crisostomo, the Arroyo government at present collects 12-percent EVAT from all local text messages and calls, and another Overseas Communications Tax for international text messages and long distance calls.

As of end-2007, the Philippines has 55 million mobile phone users. Smart reports 30 million subscribers while rivals Globe and Sun each report 20 million and five million subscribers each.

Reminder to Speaker JDV

TXTPower also reminded Speaker Jose de Venecia of his commitment not to impose any new tax on text messaging.

De Venecia made the promise in August 2004 on the same say TXTPower launched a nationwide text barrage directed at the Speaker’s mobile phone.

“We expect the Speaker and the House of Representatives to not even consider any measure for a text tax. They have already expanded the VAT. They should not be too callous as to resurrect this Frankenstein,” said Crisostomo.

Violates DOTC policy of lowering prices

The consumer group also said that the text tax proposal runs counter to a purported policy of the Department of Transportation and Communications that calls on telecommunications firms to lower prices of their products and services.

A new tax will definitely jack up prices, said Crisostomo.

Ederic Eder

Ederic is a Filipino communications worker in the telecom, media, and technology industry. He writes about K-dramas and Korean celebrities for Hallyudorama.

He used to be a social media manager for news at GMA Network, where he also headed YouScoop, GMA News and Public Affairs’ citizen journalism arm.

He was with Yahoo! Philippines for more than three years before returning to GMA Network, where he was also previously part of the News Research section.

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