DAVAO CITY—Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday rejected calls for tax rate cuts, saying his administration needs the money to revive the “ailing and bankrupt economy” to be left behind by the Aquino administration.
Duterte vowed to embark on massive infrastructure projects and high-speed mass transport system that could make the delivery of goods “cheaper, faster, more efficient and safer.”
“People are complaining about being taxed to death because the services that they deserve are hard to come by and are not seen and felt,” said Duterte, who filed his Certificate of Candidacy on Friday after a much-dilly-dallying.
“No [I am not in favor]. I need money for my programs to create jobs, invest in infrastructure, solve criminality, hunger and restore peace and order. I need money to run this country,” Duterte told reporters.
He stressed progress will come and relief to taxpayers will be had as soon as the infrastructure is in place and vowed to make all these programs happen within six years.
Duterte rejected the proposed cuts in income taxes because economic growth has yet to be felt outside of Metro Manila—something that would eventually hamper progress because Manila has become so congested.
“To boost our economy, we have to move the goods at a low cost at the shortest possible time. For one, we have to decongest Metro Manila. As it is, I cannot solve the problem of Metro Manila because it is overloaded with people, vehicles and factories,” Duterte pointed out.
“What I cannot understand is that while we have spent billions of pesos for Clark International Airport, we did not provide any high-speed train to get you there. So, those coming from the provinces and who are traveling by air would opt to use only the Naia,” said Duterte.
In solving Metro Manila’s traffic woes, Duterte said he would be needing so much funds he could even resort to borrowing.
“I have to borrow money to improve, I cannot solve the traffic problem in Metro Manila. Manila is simply overloaded. So, I have to decongest Metro Manila,” he said.
“Here in the Philippines, you go to Metro Manila, you can only use one airport, the Naia,” said Duterte.
He lamented the air traffic congestion has delayed many flights and delivery of goods.
He added the congested seaport also hampers the import-export business.
“And that is why your flights are delayed. There are so many foreign airlines using the Naia. There is no infrastructure,” he added.
“Even the service roads are lacking. We have only one port servicing the import and export needs. You know the law of supply and demand, that’s the economy. What we don’t have here, we import. What they don’t have, we export,” he said.
Duterte almost echoed President BenignoAquino III’s reason in rejecting the lower income tax proposal, claiming it was mere pa-pogi moves, Duterte said politicians especially those seeking the presidency should stop playing heroes, raising false hopes for the people.
“I’m sorry but let’s not play heroes here. If we need to build more infrastructure, trains, I will borrow money. And if you trust me fine. If not, then it’s fine with me,” Duterte said.
“I need the money because I need to raise the salary of the state workers,” said Duterte, apparently alluding to the Palace-proposed Salary Standardization Law bill that was already approved by the House on second reading.
“So I cannot reduce the taxes. I need the money to fix the economy,” he said.