- NOTE: This article was first posted on my old site on April 27, 2011.
A few months ago I made two prescient predictions about the controversial Reproductive Health bill, now euphemistically named Responsible Parenthood bill, that are about to turn into reality in light of the ongoing political development in this country. My first prediction is about the future of the ‘big government’ bill that seeks to make the government the main provider of people’s RH care needs. I predicted in October last year that our politicians in Congress would be forced to make a compromise to ensure the passage of the bill. This is what is happening in the lower house today as the bill’s proponents considered deleting some of the measure’s highly contentious provisions.
In my blog dated October 24, 2010, I stated the following:
If I’m not mistaken, Lagman filed another version of his original bill. But here’s the thing: the whole Congress are going to debate on the issues concerning the bill, and some of these issues include reproductive health, population, the use of contraception, family planning, regulation of businesses and the medical profession, among others, and they would certainly make a compromise, as they always did whenever they tackled pieces of legislation in the past.
But here are the FACTORS that our lawmakers are going to look at during the debate and deliberation process:
- The current condition of the country’s economy. Can the government provide all the RH services mentioned in the bill WITHOUT TAXING the people?
- The bill’s penal and punitive provisions.
- Are they going to shift the burden to employers, health care providers and others?
- The country’s budget deficit, tax revenue, or the financial capacity of the government to pursue the intents of the bill.
Here’s an excerpt of the Philippine Star report:
House Minority Leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the main authors of House Bill 4244, wrote to Biliran Rep. Rogelio Espina, chairman of the House committee on population and family relations, on March 15 informing him of some amendments to the measure “in order to preclude misconceptions and protracted debates.”
The chamber resumed plenary debates on the RH bill Wednesday but the discussions are expected to be protracted with at least 50 lawmaker signing up for interpellations. Congress will go on a break starting tomorrow and will resume sessions on May 9.
Lagman listed six amendments to the bill being debated in plenary, including deleting a phrase in Section 13 of the measure that states that local government units should “give priority to family planning work” and replace it with just “help implement this Act.”
The proponents also agreed to add a final provision to Section 16 on mandatory age-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education, which shall read: “Parents shall exercise the option of not allowing their minor children to attend classes pertaining to Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education.”
Section 20 on ideal family size “should be deleted in its entirety considering that the norm on ideal family size is neither mandatory nor punitive. Its total deletion will preclude further misinformation and misrepresentation as to the import of the provision,” Lagman said.
“Moreover, its deletion will also underscore freedom of informed choice,” he said.
The bill’s proponents also agreed to delete Section 21 on employers’ responsibility in its entirety, as they now realized that this provision is clearly an abuse and undue expansion of the 134 of the Labor Code.
Lagman understood that “its deletion would obviate further objections and debates.”
The representative also called for the deletion of Section 28(e) of the bill, which states: “Any person who maliciously engages in disinformation about the intent and provisions of this Act” since he now realized that it runs counter to constitutionally protected freedom of expression.
My second prediction is about the feared possibility of more and higher taxes. More taxes means more forms of taxation, while higher tax means higher tax rates.
So there’s no reason for the RH bill supporters to cheer the possible passage of the bill since it appears that the measure’s compromised version would affect us all unless there are some people who love to pay more taxes.
In the original version, most of the bill’s promises and goods were to be delivered by employers. But since Lagman and his ilk proposed to delete some of the measure’s contentious provisions, the question that our lawmakers need to answer is: Who will finance them? Well, the taxpayers of course. But what about the punitive provisions against health care providers? It appears that this is not part of Lagman’s six amendments to the bill.
On March 8, I predicted that we should brace ourselves for more and higher taxes.
In a blog article entitled Are You Ready for Higher, More Taxes?, I stated:
We have already crossed the age of heightened progressivism, as more and more statist intellectuals spout some soothing bromidic mantras to fool the people (e.g., sacrifice, common good, greater good, equality, public welfare, pro-poor programs, pro-women, etc.)
Consider this statist think tank called the Philippine Institute for Development Studies that recommends “tax financing” as the only way to achieve the government’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
The medium-term targets for 2015 include the following:
- Potable water and sanitation services for the whole country by 2010, prioritizing 200 waterless municipalities nationwide, and 200 waterless barangays in the NCR;
- Ensure universal primary education, raising net enrollment rate at the primary level to 93% (from 90% in 2002); raise the cohort survival rate to 78% (from 70% in 2002); raise the secondary school net enrollment rate to 84% (from 58% in 2002);
- Achieve the MDGs for health such as reductions of infant and under-5 mortality rates, maternal mortality rate, and incidence of malaria and TB; and as well as dissemination ofmodern reproductive health practices;
- Achieve the MDG target for hunger, i.e. reduce underweight prevalence among school children to 17%.
PIDS, whose source of funding remains unclear, published a study/report entitled “Assessing Development Strategies to Achieve the MDGs in Asia: Philippines”. The statist think tank’s (PIDS) Keynesian “economy-wide computable general equilibrium (CGE) model”, which is founded on the premise that the government must assume the role of a nanny state, identifies the most potential VICTIM for the achievement of the administration’s welfare-state MDG: WE TAXPAYERS!
Since Briones et al. realize that financing increases in government spending through domestic and foreign borrowing and foreign transfer would have a negative impact on the economy, they thus argue that “This [situation] leaves tax financin…g for achieving the MDGs.”
A Manila Bulletin report confirms my forecast after President Noynoy Aquino apparently took back an earlier campaign promise not to impose new taxes during his term. Malacañang said that Aquino’s campaign mantra of “no new taxes” policy applies only this year.
Here’s an excerpt of the Manila Bulletin report:
While the public can be assured of no additional taxes until the end of the year, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that the imposition of new taxes or higher tax rates will depend on the country’s fiscal position in the remainder of the President’s term.
“I’m not sure if the ‘no new taxes’ policy was for the entire six years (of President Aquino’s term). That was not the promise made. What we are very clear about is there will be no taxes this year,” Lacierda said in a Palace news conference.
“That’s my understanding. We are going through it on a year-to-year basis,” Lacierda added of the imposition of additional taxes during Aquino’s tenure.
In the campaign road to the presidency last year, then Senator Benigno Aquino III promised he would not impose new taxes or increase tax rates if elected president. Aquino, in seeking the votes of Makati Business Club last year, instead vowed he would focus on the campaign against tax evasion and smuggling.
Lacierda, however, explained that the President may reconsider raising taxes in the coming years depending on advice of his economic managers and the “fiscal condition” of the country.
“Right now we are doing okay, so there are no plans right now,” he said. “We have good numbers on revenues and deficit,” he added.
Lacierda declined to comment on the bills seeking higher taxes on alcohol and tobacco supposedly meant to curb the government’s huge budget deficit until the Palace has seen the details. He admitted that it “sounds good” to simplify the multi-tiered system of sin taxes but “we haven’t seen the bill yet.”
Lacierda also said that Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad still have to comment on the proposed legislation on higher sin taxes.
How about text tax?
I hope those who blindly supported this bill and rallied for its immediate passage had the honesty to claim that they also want to pay more and higher taxes. I hope that they wouldn’t pass the burden to those who have the capacity to pay more taxes by calling for an increased tax rates to be imposed on high income earners and businesses. I hope they won’t call for more social sacrifices. Thus, these people should stop complaining about the amount of their mandatory contributions. They should also learn to stop complaining about the many failures of their government since we all know that the government has never been efficient in performing its duties.
To pro-RH bill people let me say this: YOU WON! You asked for all of this, brothers.