Clamor to suspend excise tax on fuel rippling in Senate


MANILA, Philippines — At least four senators have expressed their desire to tackle the possibility of scrapping or suspending the excise tax on fuel mandated under the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law. 

After the House of Representatives began their deliberations on measures proposing to suspend or repeal the excise tax on fuel and petroleum products on Wednesday, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said the Senate should also “entertain the same idea.” 

“Let this be a lesson to all of us: it is very difficult to impose an excise tax on an item whose price is unstable and very volatile, and completely beyond our control and even our influence whatsoever,” he added in a text message to reporters, Thursday.

Senator Bam Aquino also said he hopes the upper chamber would tackle his Bawas Presyo Bill and the opposition senators’ joint resolution repealing the excise tax on fuel before the end of the year.

The resolution has been pending before the ways and means committee, according to Senator Francis Pangilinan.

“We (opposition senators) do not have the numbers to have it passed. It’s up to the majority now to act on it,” Pangilinan stressed.

For his part, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian lamented how the Philippines continue to suffer while Paris has already scrapped their own version of fuel tax amid violent protests.

“Tayo mas matiisin. Mas sanay tayo magtiis at sumabak sa mahirap na situwasyon. Kawawa ‘yung nasa bottom 30% na mahihirap. Mas ramdam nila ang taas ng presyo,” he added.

On Wednesday, Malacañang greenlighted the implementation of the second tranche of oil excise tax hike next year amid decreasing international crude prices.

READ: Palace OKs implementation of 2nd fuel tax hike

An excise tax of P2.50 a liter was imposed on diesel and bunker fuel starting this year due to the TRAIN Law. This would go up to P4.50 in 2019, and P6 in 2020. The excise tax on gasoline also increased to P7 in 2018, and then to P9 in 2019 and P10 in 2020.

In the lower House, the ways and means panel, chaired by Nueva Ecija 1st District Rep. Estrellita Suansing, approved the creation of a technical working group (TWG) to deliberate on various proposals to suspend or scrap the excise tax on fuel and petroleum products in a bid to ease inflation.

These are: House Bill 8171 authored Markina 2nd District Rep. Romero Quimbo, House Joint Resolution (HJR) 27 by Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman, HJR 29 by Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe, HJR 31 by Baguio Rep. Mark Go, House Resolution (HR) 1838 and 2253 by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, and HR 1919 by 1-Pacman Rep. Michael Romero.

Suansing said that the TWG, which would be led by Quimbo, aims “to strike a workable balance between the revenue interest of the government and the financial well-being of the country.” /jpv