Who first proposed fuel excise tax freeze? Robredo: ‘It was my proposal in 2018’

Although she is happy now that other presidential aspirants are joining the chorus to freeze the excise taxes on fuel, Vice President Leni Robredo said that she has proposed this move back in 2018.

However, being part of the opposition, her pitch wasn't given much attention.

Vice President Leni Robredo (Mark Balmores/MANILA BULLETIN)

Her push for the suspension of excise taxes on fuel due to skyrocketing costs has been going on for the past three years.

“Sinabi ko na (I’ve already said) actually naging sirang plaka tayo niyan eh (I sounded like a broken record). At that time, tayo lang yata isa sa mga (we are just one of the) very few nagkocomment (who commented) about it, na nagsalita tayo. 2018 pa nanawagan na tayo ng (We’ve been calling since 2018 for the) suspension ng (of) excise tax on fuel. Kaya lang siguro oposisyon tayo minamasama (But we are from the opposition, so they take it the wrong way),” she said during her Sunday radio show on Oct. 24.

READ: Robredo joins calls to suspend full implementation of TRAIN law

While she noticed that the issue is now being used because of the elections, Robredo added that she’s still glad others are already giving it attention since it affects the marginalized sector of society.

In 2018, Liberal Party (LP) stalwarts, led by Robredo herself, called on the government to suspend the provision in the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law that raised the excise tax on fuel.

“Mas masaya ako ngayon kasi marami na kaming humihingi. Baka sakaling maaksyunan na (I am happier now because a lot of us are calling for it. They might take action finally),” she said.

The issue on the suspension of the excise taxes on fuel came after presidential aspirants Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. promised to cut the taxes on fuel if they become president.

READ: Marcos committed 'idea theft' vs Mayor Isko — Aksyon Demokratiko

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi earlier sought authority from lawmakers to suspend the excise taxes on fuel after its continued rise for eight straight weeks. The reduction will result in P8 to P10 per liter savings for private motorists and public transport groups.

But Robredo noted that the suspension of the excise taxes should be “automatic” already since the TRAIN law allows for it when the rise in prices continues for three months.

“Dapat sana kapag may (When there are) extraordinary na ganito na pataas nang pataas ‘yung presyo, automatic na. Automatic na ‘yung suspension hindi na ‘yung hihingiin mo pa (like this that prices are increasing, it should be automatic. The suspension is automatic, and we shouldn’t have to ask for it),” she said.

The Vice President is also seeking the continuation of programs that aim to give aid or assistance to the transport sector and all the other sectors reliant on the rise and fall of fuel prices.

Some of the most affected sectors are the farmers and fisherfolk who use fuel for their farm equipment and motorized boats.

READ: DOE seeks temporary suspension of excise tax on oil

“Kapag hindi kasi natin sinuspend ‘yung (When we don’t suspend the) excise tax on oil, ano ‘to (it has a) reverberating ‘yung effect niya. Hindi niya lang naaapektuhan ‘yung (It doesn’t only affect those who) directly gumagamit ng (use) gasolina pero syempre dadagdag iyong gastos ng pagmove ng (gasoline but it will add to the expense of moving) goods and services. So, ultimately, ‘yung lahat ng bilihin natin dagdag iyong presyo dahil hindi naarrest (all our goods will be more expensive because it wasn’t arrested),” she explained.

The Department of Finance (DOF), however, said that the government stands to lose P131.4 billion in revenues if lawmakers will approve the suspension of excise taxes on petroleum products.