SAN FRANCISCO — Gathered in front of the Philippine consulate in downtown San Francisco, Filipino-Americans and their allies demonstrated what they called the United People’s SONA — where they gave their response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s third State of the Nation address.
Tax reform is one of the issues these organizers are pushing back against Duterte.
The president has credited his Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law — or “TRAIN” — for providing much-needed revenue to fund government projects and services to the people.
“Prices of basic goods are increasing because of this tax: the gas, sugar, alcohol…basic goods that the Filipino buys. And that’s a burden on the majority of the Filipino people. and we are seeing even from OFWs, we have to send even more money now because of the value of what we send is lower,” said Aurora Victoria David.
“Even the value of the peso has gone down, this is an indication that we are not doing well, but because of the activity in the region and the hard work of the Filipinos overseas we are still doing well,” said Atty. Ted Laguatan.
These organizers say that if Duterte is truly concerned about having enough money for infrastructure and helping the poor — there are three immediate things he can do.
“He needs to tax the rich and foreign corporations. He needs to get rid of the corruption that’s going on and he needs to really strengthen the tax collection,” said Alex Magsano.
Majority of those in the protest have immigrated to the US or are children of immigrants — and they have this message for those in the Philippines who criticize them for being critical of their homeland.
“We as Filipino-Americans actually know our roots of why we are here and it’s because of the problems that are happening in the Philippines, those root problems that forces 6,000 Filipinos to leave on the daily,” said Jessica Antonio.
Organizers here say that they are already planning for bigger demonstrations in preparation for the martial law anniversary in September.