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Read Two Essays: On the challenge of higher education for MSU and Tax Reform | By Ed Tadem, PhD

on . Posted in News @ UP Asian Center

Photo of Marawi Capitol Mosque from Wikimedia Commons and photo of taxes from Pixabay. 


Dr. Eduardo Tadem, Professorial Lecturer at the UP Asian Center, wrote articles for the Inquirer on the challenges of higher education in Mindanao State University and tax reforms. 

In light of the on-going conflict in Marawi City, Dr. Tadem profiles MSU’s transformation over the years. The university has made inroads in shrugging off the legacy of embedded “mainstream Westernized education principles” by creating fields of studies that were specific to the needs and multicultural context of Mindanao’s Islamic, Christian, and indigenous peoples.

Yet Tadem notes that scholars and experts worry that the prestigious university has not been able to fulfill the level of learning aspired for by the Moro youth.

‘Moner Bajunaid, former chancellor of MSU General Santos, said, “Moro youth are seeking an Islamic higher education that we don’t offer here.” He added that “our people look [up to] graduates from Islamic countries with more respect and carrying more authority.

For Rufa Cagoco-Guiam, retired MSU General Santos professor, a barrier to an MSU education for “impoverished Moro youth” is “a culturally Western-based admissions exam” that favors “Christian Filipino students who are more exposed to the nuances of the English language and to cultural artifacts that are a given” in non-Muslim communities.’

MSU and the Westernized academic institutions must "transform themselves to address the real needs and aspirations of Mindanao youth", one that combines the narratives of the "the three legs that hold up the melting pot that is Mindanao", the Moros, the lumads and the settlers.

In another article, Dr. Tadem analyzes the government’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion program, which aims to expand the VAT for various commodities to compensate for the revenue losses incurred from lowering the personal income tax. 

Citing several sources and voices of concern, Dr.Tadem argues that TRAIN effectively hits poorer households because they’re predisposed to spend a bigger share of their income on daily needs.

The increasing personal income tax will not help the poor because “they do not pay income taxes to begin with”. But increasing consumption taxes will harm them.

‘Rather than imposing more regressive consumption taxes that hurt the poor and middle classes, the government should instead look inward and plug policy and administrative holes that result in negative and illicit financial outflows. 

Among these are the excessive tax holidays enjoyed by corporations, foregone revenues in special economic zones and from free trade agreements, trade misinvoicing, rampant smuggling, payments on “sovereign guarantees” for failed firms, corruption by government bureaucrats and politicians, unmet tax collection targets, the 370 pending tax evasion cases, and the unrecovered illegal wealth plundered by the Marcos family and their cronies.’

Such alternatives, says Dr.Tadem, “don’t need new legislation, just the political will to recover trillions of pesos in relinquished government incomes”.

Dr. Eduardo C. Tadem specializes in rural development, agrarian reform, and the peasantry, among other topics. He handles graduate courses on Southeast Asia. His most recent publication is “Technocracy and the Peasantry: Martial Law Development Paradigms and Philippine Agrarian Reform,” 2015. Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 45. No.3.  He has a PhD in Southeast Asian Studies from the National University of Singapore. View his full faculty profile.


The Asian Center offers M.A. degrees in Asian Studies with four fields of specialization: Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Asia. The Center also has an M.A. program in Philippine Studies that allows students to major in Philippine society and culture, Philippine foreign relations, or Philippine development studies. The Center offers a Ph.D. program in Philippine Studies in conjunction with the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. For an overview of these graduate programs, click here. The Asian Center also publishes Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia, the latest issue of which can be downloaded at the journal's website. View recent and upcoming Lectures & Conferences and read other News & Announcements. Join our mailing list to receive invitations to lectures, conferences, etc.  

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