THE leftist bloc at the House of Representatives filed on Thursday morning before the Supreme Court a petition to declare the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law “unconstitutional” and issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against its implementation.
The petition filed by ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao and Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said that despite a clear lack of quorum during the plenary debates, TRAIN was “ratified by the House of Representatives in violation of its Rules and the 1987 Constitution and enacted by the President.”
“[A replay of the video] shows a nearly empty session hall, with only Petitioners, Respondents [Iloilo Rep. Arthur] Defensor, [Jr.] and [Batangas Rep. Raneo] Abu and a few other Members. While the plenary session hall has 295 seats for the district and party-list representatives, only around 10 of them were occupied that night,” the petition read.
The two also claimed that Abu and Defensor, respondents in the petition, also “deliberately ignored” them by refusing to recognize their presence and give them the floor.
“Our petition is premised on the fact that the House blatantly violated the Constitution and its own rules in ‘ratifying’ the Bicameral Conference Committee Report of the [TRAIN] bill without a quorum and without a vote. Thus, we ask the Supreme Court to void the invalid House ratification and the overwhelmingly regressive TRAIN law,” the bloc said in a statement.
“Once the Supreme Court favors our petition, it will send a strong message to the leaders of Congress that they cannot just pass a law without a quorum and without a vote; that they have to strictly observe the Constitution and, in particular, the rules on ratification,” the statement added.
The bloc added that it was considering filing another petition against the “regressive and burdensome” new tax impositions of the TRAIN.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law on December 19, 2017. RALPH EDWIN U. VILLANUEVA