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On November 30, the militant Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) will launch the "Workers' Challenge" campaign, which aims to pressure the Aquino government and the candidates of the 2013 elections to present concrete solutions to the problems of the masses.

Leody de Guzman, BMP national president said, "We call on both the administration and the opposition to present their solutions to low wages, contractualization, high power rates, spiraling oil prices and onerous regressive taxes.We are not seeking miracles. Workers want to hear concrete proposals and step-by-step approaches on how to alleviate poverty and address the gut issues of the masses".

Sin Tax bill PhilippinesThe BMP calls for an issue-based elections on 2013 and platform, not personality-oriented, politics. The labor leader added, "We are tired of motherhood statements and empty electoral slogans such as 'Para sa Mahirap', 'Kung walang korap, walang mahirap', 'Gusto ko Happy ka', and other forms of gimmickry.

The labor group would launch the "Workers Challenge" campaign in a march from Mehan Garden to Mendiola by some 2,000 protesters from workers' unions and urban poor organizations.

From November 30 to May 10, the "Workers Challenge" campaign would be highlighted by activities such as massive “postering” of Metro Manila and other key urban centers of the country, leaflet mass distribution, picketing of the campaign headquarters of LPC and UNA and hounding of their election sorties. On May 1, the BMP would render its "judgment" on candidates, parties, coalitions engaged in the electoral exercise.

Kilusang Kontra Buwis-it

Meanwhile, at a press conference in Quezon City last Friday, urban poor group Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungod (KPML), a BMP affiliate, launched the "Kilusang Kontra Buwis-it".Pedring Fadrigon, KPML national president clarified, "Aside from the sectoral issues of mass housing and violent demolitions, the KPML is calling for the total overhaul of the taxation system in our November 30 march".

"The tax burden must shift from the impoverished masses to the affluent elite, from consumption to income and property. Those who have more in life should have more in taxes," Fadrigon added. "Contrary to the popular but wrong notion that the majority poor are not paying taxes, the wages we may get from irregular employment are subject to withholding taxes; utilities such as power and water are subject to taxes; prices of oil, LPG and other petroleum products are further increased by the 12% VAT," he explained.

The KPML also issued an "urgent appeal" to participants of the bicameral meeting, which is expected to meet this week on the controversial sin tax bill. "The axe may chop down the Drilon or the House version but ultimately its razor’s edge would fall on the consumers, majority of whom are poor. Mahihirapmuliangtatamaanngbagongbuwis.Nakaamba pa ang text tax. Kami nanaman! Awatna.Itigilangbagongbuwis-it samahihirap," he said.

Fadrigon concluded, "Unfortunately, the added sin tax, if passed into a law, would not stop smokers from their vices. Cigarettes are retailed per stick and are easily available to poor consumers. Kahit mag mahal ang bawat pakete, hindi naman kaha-kaha kung bumili ang mga mahihirap kundi tingi-tingi sa mga kalsada't maliit na tindahan".

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