3 senators call for suspension of Train law
ILOILO CITY — Three senators on Friday called for the suspension of the implementation of Republic Act No. 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) law as consumers and transport groups complained of soaring prices of commodities.
In a hearing of the Senate committee on public utilities here, Sen. Grace Poe, committee chair said the full implementation of the laws especially excise taxes on fuel should be suspended because all products are affected.
Her call was supported by committee members senators Nancy Binay and Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito.
Poe said the committee would ask the Department of Finance and other government agencies to closely study the suspension of excise taxes on fuel due to the continuous increase of the prices of oil products.
In the hearing, leaders of the Scrap Train Network-Panay cited an increase in the price of diesel, which is widely used by public jeepneys, from P33 to P34 per liter in December 2017 to P43 to P44, as of May 24 or a P10-peso increase.
Due to the increase in prices of oil products and commodities, a family has incurred an additional expense of P2,644 monthly for farmers and P3,640 for workers.
“While we recognize that taxes fuel the country’s economy, we should implement instead a progressive kind of taxation not the regressive kind. Meaning, those with higher income should be taxed more while those with lower income should be taxed less,” the group, which includes the Panay Consumer’s Alliance and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, said in a position paper submitted to the committee.
Transport leaders said public jeepney drivers have to extend their work time to 16 hours from the previous 12 hours to meet their daily needs due to the higher cost of living.
As part of safeguards, Poe said the implementation of the law could be suspended when the price of oil hits $80 per barrel in the world market.
She said there was an urgency to suspend the law because inflation has breached the 4-percent mark.
The inflation rate hit 4.3 percent in March and 4.5 percent in April.
Poe said this could reach 6 percent in July.
While admitting that he voted for the passage of Train, Ejercito said the Senate version of the bill had provided for lower excise taxes on fuel. He said taxes should be higher on the so-called “sin products,” including alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.
He said the additional safeguard of an automatic suspension of the implementation of the law when the inflation rate reaches 4 percent was removed in the final version.
“We are hoping that the economic managers will reconsider (the suspension of the law). We do not want a capital flight (to happen),” he told reporters after the hearing at the Iloilo provincial capitol.
Militant groups led by Bayan held a picket in front of the provincial capitol to call for the scrapping of the law.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.