Palace shrugs off plan to derail Train

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Malacañang on Thursday pooh-poohed a plan of opposition lawmakers to bring President Rodrigo Duterte’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Law before the Supreme Court (SC).

In a radio interview, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the new law would be beneficial to Filipinos, citing revenues from its implementation that would go back to the people in the form of social services.

Andanar was reacting to Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate’s criticisms that the Train Law would increase prices of goods to the detriment of ordinary Filipinos.

“Karapatan naman iyan ni Congressman Zarate, kasama naman sa procedure iyan, kasama sa sistema na puwedeng idulog sa Korte Suprema kung merong mga kuwestyun [That’s Congressman Zarate’s right, that’s part of the procedure, that’s part of the system that it could be brought before the Supreme Court if there are questions about it],” he said during an interview with dzBB radio.


BITTER TASTE A delivery boy loads cases of soft drinks on a forwarder at a warehouse in Barangay Payatas, Quezon City, on Thursday. Soft-drink prices are expected to go up as a result of the imposition of higher taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ

But Andanar, quoting Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd, added that the tax reform law may generate about P80 billion in revenues for the government.

“Dito po huhugutin ang panggastos sa libreng edukasyon sa state universities and colleges; pati po doon sa Build, Build, Build; doon po sa health services [This is where we will get our budget for our free education in state universities and colleges, also for our Build, Build, Build project and our health services],” he said.

Build, Build, Build is the Duterte administration’s huge infrastructure program.

The President earlier approved the law lowering personal income taxes while raising duties on fuel, cars, coal and sugar-sweetened drinks.

Revenues will help fund the President’s P8-trillion infrastructure program.

On Wednesday, Zarate said the Makabayan bloc’s legal team is preparing a case asking the High Court to stop the implementation of the law, which they claimed would “hit 15.2 million poor families the hardest.”

“Busisiin mo iyung provisions ng Train Law. Mayroon ngang binigay na mga benepisyo sa kaliwang kamay, pero talagang nawawala rin dahil kinakain ng pagtaas ng mga presyo ng bilihin, at pag-impose ng bagong taxes [Examine the provisions of the law. You have benefits, on one hand, but these are negated by the price hike in basic goods and the imposition of new taxes],” Zarate said also during an interview with dzMM radio.

The Train Law is also “legally infirm” because the House of Representatives ratified it despite an alleged lack of a quorum and voting, he added.

Under the new law, the first P250,000 in annual income will be exempt from tax.

The tax exemption cap on the 13th month pay was also raised to P90,000 from P82,000.

Meanwhile, an excise tax will be charged on diesel at P2.50 per liter next year.

This will be raised to P4.50 the following year and P6 in 2020.

LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) will be taxed P1 per kilo in 2018 and will be increased to P2 the following year and to P3 in 2020.

The excise tax on regular and unleaded premium gasoline will be raised to P7 in 2018 from the current P4.35.

This will be increased to P9 in 2019 and P10 in 2020.

Drinks with caloric and non-caloric sweeteners will be taxed P6 per liter while those using high fructose corn syrup will be charged P12 per liter.

For cars, the new rates will be 4 percent for vehicles whose manufacturer’s price is up to P600,000, 10 percent for cars worth P600,000 to P1 million, 20 percent for cars worth P1 million to P4 million and 50 percent for vehicles worth over P4 million.

CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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