Rich tax cheats next name-and-shame targets
CAMP LUKBAN, Samar―First it was the drug lords. Next were the oligarchs. Now, rich tax evaders will be the target of President Duterte’s latest name-and-shame campaign.
“You rich people, pay your taxes. I will be announcing formally―because I would like to have the list completed―all you rich millionaires in the Philippines. Pay your taxes or I’ll invite you for questioning,” Mr. Duterte said as he visited troops here.
If the tax evaders don’t comply, he warned that he would send the police to them and ask them why they were not paying their due.
The future of the Filipinos is at stake, he said.
“You’re cheating government. You are destroying the Filipino people. It won’t happen during my watch,” he added.
Mr. Duterte lamented that the rich were just making themselves richer and richer, alluding to online gaming operations that continue to grow in number.
“How am I supposed to protect the younger… how do I collect the right taxes?” he asked.
He warned the rich not to deprive the government of its due.
The government’s interest is paramount, he said.
“It must be the interest, first and last. The first and only interest is government interest, nothing else matters,” he said.
As long as everybody follows the law, follows the rules and do not cause agony to their fellowmen, “we would have no problem,” the President also said.
Just recently, Mr. Duterte vented his ire on oligarchs, a small group of people who wield economic and political power.
He said last week that he wanted to destroy them and their hold on the country, as they were out to maintain their power and their clutches on the country’s riches.
The Duterte administration also has an ongoing, bloody war on drugs that has the President linking over a hundred local officials, judges and members of the police and military to the illegal trade.
Many of them have denied the allegation and have come out to clear their names.
By contrast, hundreds of other drug suspects, who have no positions of power, have been killed by vigilantes or in supposed shoot-outs with police officers.
Mr. Duterte was in Catbalogan to visit yet another military camp to assure troops of his support for them.
During his visit, Mr. Duterte promised the troops medical equipment and told them that he had ordered the defense secretary to convert the President’s aircraft into an air ambulance.
He would leave it up to his successor to look for his or her own plane, he said.
The President said he was comfortable with Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, noting that it has been a long while since any of their aircraft crashed.
He also said he had been riding a small jet and paying for its gasoline and operational costs.
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