By Hannah Torregoza
Opposition Senator Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV on Thursday said the Duterte government is starting the year 2019 on the wrong foot when it decided to push through with the second tranche of additional taxes on petroleum products based on the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN).
High prices of oil greeted Filipinos on New Year as the second tranche of excise taxes under the TRAIN law takes effect on January 1.
Aquino said such move might worsen the burden of high prices on Filipino consumers.
“Ang pinakamainam na New Year’s resolution para sa bayan ay bawasan ang pahirap sa mamamayan (The best New Year’s resolution for the nation is to lessen the burden of the people,” said Aquino in a statement.
Aquino is one of the four senators who voted against the ratification of the TRAIN Law.
“Nalulunod pa nga sa mataas na presyo ng bilihin ang ating mga kababayan, may dagdag buwis pa ulit. Tulungan sana natin ang mga mahihirap nating kababayan, (the people are already drowning over the high prices of goods, then here comes another tax burden. I hope we would just help our poor fellowmen recover from all of these),” said Aquino.
The Senate minority bloc had earlier hoped the government would defer the implementation of the second tranche of excise tax on fuel until inflation normalizes or until prices of food and other goods go down.
Under the second tranche, an additional P2.00 excise tax would be imposed on gasoline and diesel and one peso on kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in 2019.
Aquino had earlier filed a measure amending the TRAIN law, by ensuring the suspension and rollback of excise tax on fuel once the country’s inflation rate exceeds the government’s target for three straight months.
The Senate minority bloc, led by Sen. Franklin Drilon, and the Senate majority bloc, led by Senate President Vicente Sotto III had also appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend the second tranche of fuel excise tax scheduled for January.
But the appeal fell on deaf ears after Duterte approved the implementation of the second round of fuel tax increases despite having promised he would suspend it to tame the high inflation the country experienced since the TRAIN law was implemented last year.