Nakasakay na ako sa paborito kong ordinaryong bus, ang Gasat papuntang opisina sa may Kamuning. Nakahimpil sa tapat ng Megamall Building A.
Lunch break. Ok lang, wala naman talaga akong oras sa opisina. Hindi ako nagmamadali. Pero iyung miss na katabi ko, kanina pa bumubulong, "Shit, ano ba meron? Late na ako...."
Napansin kong hindi umaabante ang bus namin. Ano nga bang meron?
Tatlong hilera ng mga sasakyan ang nakatigil nang mga sandaling iyun, at kasama roon ang bus na sinasakyan ko. May nakaharang palang motorsiklo sa unahan, courtesy ng isang MMDA traffic officer.
Pinatigil niya ang aming mga sinasakyan para pabayaang umagos nang malaya ang mga sasakyang dumaan sa Crossing Ilalim sa may sangandaang EDSA-Shaw Boulevard.
Tangna. Karamihan ng mga sasakyang pinabayaan niyang umagos ay mga private vehicle. Mga sasakyang may isa o dalawang pasahero lamang, kumpara sa sinasakyan kong bus na naglalaman ng humigit-kumulang 20 tao.
Saktong pinaliliguan ng hanging habagat ang lunsod, kaya nakasara ang mga bintana ng sinasakyan kong bus. Dalawa kaming hindi nakapagpigil, pero nauna ako.
Una, nagmura na ako. Bakit hindi kami umaabante?
Pangalawa, binuksan ko na ang bintana ko. “Hoy, nagbabayad din kami ng buwis a!”
Pangatlo, sumigaw na rin ang mamang nasa likod ko. “Putangna, sabihin mo sa boss mo gumising nang mas maaga!”
Pang-apat, sumigaw ulit ako. “Me karapatan din kami sa EDSA, a!”
Pang-lima, pinatuloy na niya kami. Pinabayaan na niyang umagos ang tatlong hilera ng sasakyang pinatigil niya sa ngalan ng mga de-kotseng tao.
Muntik nang umagos ng dugo.
Classic class conflict.
Perhaps, you’ve read about this disgruntled office worker who questions the motive of those who are crying out loud against the system, of those who seem to be against progress, of those who seem to live off antagonizing authorities.
He argues – what right do activists, the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, the friggin’ dirty masses, the beggars and the vagrants have in protesting against the government when, in fact, they don’t pay taxes at all?
They should owe gratitude to the hardworking middle class – the office worker, the factory worker, the yuppie – they who assiduously pay their income taxes annually.
(He forgot to mention the big companies, who annually hire the services of a popular auditing firm so that they will “legally” pay less taxes.)
The issue boils down to the issue of taxes. The issue boils down to citizenship.
In ancient Rome, one is considered a citizen if one is propertied – one has slaves, land, the works.
In our modern society, we consider everyone as citizens, regardless of their financial status.
However, does it follow that if you don’t pay your taxes properly, you are not a citizen? And if you do not pay your taxes properly, does that mean you have no right to speak against the government you’re supposed to support, financially and morally?
In the Internet age, let us rephrase the question – if you do not pay your taxes properly, does that mean you have no right to speak against ANY government?
However, let us formalize this debate by defining the issue at hand. What kind of taxes are we referring to, anyway?
Income taxes are for income earned from work. There are various taxes – in the Philippines, we have the expanded value-added taxes, withholding taxes, et cetera.
In a situation where you cannot purchase anything without being taxed by the government, what does one mean by not paying your taxes properly?
You buy food, you get taxed. You buy water, you get taxed. You buy electricity, you get taxed. You do business, you get taxed.
You work, you get taxed.
Whatever you do in the Philippines, you get taxed.
WHAT THE HELL DOES ONE MEAN BY NOT PAYING YOUR TAXES PROPERLY??
We are being taxed by the government to death!!!
There is no point in making a connection between one’s freedom of speech and one’s corresponding ability to pay income taxes.
Do you think you can get a job at a multinational firm and still retain that fiery idealism, the one that burns brightly for the toiling masses?
(The toiling masses, by the way, are factory workers working on five-month contracts; those who have finished college courses but apply for jobs abroad as domestic helpers; tenant-farmers who have no choice at all; sacadas who roam across the countryside looking for work; out-of-school youth who yearn to be schooled but do not have the money)
Don’t you think you’d get blacklisted if you were spotted at a picket line, if you were videotaped fighting riot police at a dispersal, if you were seen distributing leaflets decrying the injustices wrought by the shameless regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the Liar?