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Senate minority wants TRAIN fuel excise taxes scrapped

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By Xave Gregorio

Opposition senators want excise taxes imposed by the first package of the administration’s tax reform program on petroleum products scrapped.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Leila de Lima filed Wednesday (October 10) Joint Resolution No. 15, which seeks to suspend the imposition of excise taxes on petroleum products.

The resolution also seeks to revert excise taxes back to the rates before the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law was passed.

“This has the force of law. Ito pong suspension na sinasabi kinakailangan din po ng legislative action kasi legislation din po ang nagpasa ng TRAIN Law, so kailangan po ng legislative action para po ma-correct ‘yan,” Aquino said in an interview after filing the proposed resolution.

Once passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president, a joint resolution, much like a bill, has the force and effect of law.

Aquino said Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Romero Quimbo would be filing a counterpart resolution in the lower house.

However, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III pointed out that a joint resolution is not necessary to suspend excise taxes imposed by TRAIN, which has been blamed by critics for rapid inflation, which hit at a new nine-year high at 6.7 percent in September.

“The executive department may suspend that without the necessity of having a bill or a resolution from both houses of Congress,” Sotto said.

Under the TRAIN Law, excise taxes on petroleum products would be automatically suspended once the average three-month price of Dubai crude oil based on the Mean of Platts Singapore reaches or exceeds $80 per barrel. World crude oil prices have exceeded $80.

Sotto said that a repeal – not a resolution – is needed to halt the imposition of excise taxes on fuel, which added a P2.50 tax on every liter of diesel and bunker fuel and would add a further P2 per liter next year and another P2.50 in 2020.

Aquino has previously filed Senate Bill No. 1798, which seeks to amend the TRAIN Law for the imposition of excise taxes on fuel to be suspended once the average inflation rate for three months exceeds government targets.

Excise taxes on fuel would also revert to their rates before the enactment of the TRAIN Law under the measure.