By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday asked President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent the Bawas Presyo Bill that seeks to suspend the excise tax on fuel under the tax reform law.
Robredo made an appeal to Duterte during the “Kamustahang Bayan” in Zamboanga City, where she visited the Old Public Market to check the prices of rice and other basic goods.
“Nakikiusap tayo sa ating mga senador, congressmen, pati na po kay Pangulong Duterte certify ng urgent kasi gusto natin kontrolin na ang pagpatuloy na pagtaas,” she said in her message.
(We plead to our senator, congressmen, including President Duterte to certify as urgent because we want to control the rising inflation.)
The Vice President was in the city’s public market to speak to market vendors and consumers and hear out their concerns over the high prices of rice and other commodities.
Robredo was joined by Senator Bam Aquino, who proposed the measure that can help ease the difficulties caused by the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law on Filipinos.
During their dialogue, vegetable vendor like Nanay Diding Sadda shared to Robredo and Aquino how the continued price hike has directly affected their livelihood and families.
The other is Minang Lim who lamented that some poor residents had to “resort to eating cassava as a replacement for rice” at the height of the rice shortage.
At the public market, the two officials personally witnessed how consumers suffered long lines for hours so they could buy cheaper rice.
Rice from the National Food Authority is being sold at P32 per kilo, which is more affordable than the commercial rice sold at prices ranging from P50 to 70 per kilo.
“We are doing this to listen so your voices will be heard. You have stronger voices than us. They will listen to your stories because it is the truth. These are really happening here,” said Robredo in Filipino.
In an interview after the dialogue, Aquino said his colleagues in the Senate are united to support the passage of his measure to address the soaring inflation due to the impact of the TRAIN law.
The immediate passage of the measure is vital since the second round of increase in excise tax on fuel under the TRAIN Law would take effect in January 2019, he explained.
While Aquino is pushing for his bill, the Vice President said that a counterpart measure has been passed last Monday in the House of Representatives. (Raymund F. Antonio)