The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 10963, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN Act) of 2017, which amended the 1997 National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC).
In a full court decision written by Associate Justice Japar B. Dimaampao, the SC – during its full court session last Tuesday, Jan. 24 – dismissed two petitions which challenged the constitutionality of RA 10963.
A copy of the decision was not available immediate. The SC’s public information office (PIO) issued a press statement on the ruling.
Resolved and dismissed were two petitions denominated as G.R. No. 236118 (ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio, et al., vs President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, et al.) and G.R. No. 236295 (Laban Konsyumer, Inc., et al., vs Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, et al.).
Among other arguments, the two petitions claimed that the TRAIN Act was passed by the House of Representatives despite alleged lack of quorum, and that its provisions which imposed excise taxes on diesel, coal, liquefied petroleum gas, and kerosene, were prohibited regressive taxes.
The petitioners in the two cases also alleged that the excise taxes were confiscatory and discriminatory against the poor and violated the Filipino people’s right to due process and equal protection of laws.
At the same time, the petitioners pointed out that TRAIN Act, which was implemented starting January 2018, imposes a heavy burden on Filipinos from low-income and poor families.
In dismissing the petitions, the PIO said that “the Court held that the supposed absence of a quorum was belied by the official Journal of the House of Representatives, both on the day that the TRAIN’s Bicameral Conference Report was ratified and the immediately subsequent session on January 15, 2018.”
“As between the livestream video and photographs presented by the petitioners, and the Congressional Journal, the latter must prevail as to the events on the Congressional floor on that fateful day given that no less than the Constitution itself grants the Congressional Journal its imprimatur,” it said.
It also said that “the Court reiterated that the Constitution, in its present form, does not prohibit the imposition of regressive taxes, but merely directs Congress to evolve a progressive system of taxation.”
“Lastly, the Court ruled that petitioners’ contention that the provisions of the TRAIN Act are ‘anti-poor,’ was not sufficiently proven and remained largely hypothetical,” it added.
Twelve justices, led by Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo, concurred in the decision. Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa dissented, while Associate Justice Ricardo R. Rosario was on wellness leave when the petitions were taken up.
Aside from Chief Justice Gesmundo, those who voted to dismiss the petitions were Senior Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen and Associate Justices Ramon Paul L. Hernando, Amy C. Lazaro Javier, Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, Rodil V. Zalameda, Mario V. Lopez, Samuel H. Gaerlan, Jhosep Y. Lopez, Jose Midas P. Marquez, Antonio T. Kho Jr., and Maria Filomena D. Singh.
The PIO said it will upload the decision in the SC website, sc.judiciary.gov.ph, immediately once a copy is made available.
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