PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s “gifts” to the people of Baguio City were announced by his spokesman at the opening day of the 23rd Baguio Flower Festival or Panagbenga on Thursday.
“Nais kong iparating ang mga regalo ng ating Presidente (I’d like to present to you the gifts from the President),” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr., who was the guest speaker in the event held at the refurbished Baguio Athletic Bowl.
On top of the list of the President’s “gifts” was the free tuition in all state universities and colleges in the country.
“Bukod po dyan dahil alam ng Presidente na ang Baguio at Benguet ay pinanggagalingan ng ating mga gulay at ating mga bulaklak, malapit nang mapirmahan ni Presidente ang libreng patubig para po sa lahat na magsasaka (Aside from that, since the President knows that Baguio and Benguet produce the country’s vegetables and flowers, he will soon sign the free irrigation water for the farmers) .”
Roque said the President was about to sign a law on free irrigation for farmlands across the country.
Another gift, Roque said, was free medicines and medical check-up for all Filipinos under the proposed universal health care law now under deliberation at the Senate.
Roque said Cordillera farmers, who produce about 80 percent of the country’s vegetable supply, stand to benefit from the new Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, the first package of the comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP) of the Duterte government.
“Magbe-benefit mga magsasaka dito sa Cordillera dahil yung mga kumikita ng P250,000, wala na po silang babayarang buwis (the Cordillera farmers will benefit because those who are earning P250,000 are now exempt from tax),” said Roque.
He also said the additional funds collected from the implementation of the TRAIN law would be channeled to the building of more farm-to-market roads.
Roque said the Department of Finance estimated that the TRAIN would only have a 0.7 percent effect on inflation, thus the infrastructure benefits and the tax exemption would be bigger for the farmers.
Meanwhile, Roque clarified that the recent hikes in fuel prices were due to increasing prices of crude oil in the world market, which was beyond the government’s control. p: wjg