Press Release
May 23, 2018


Aking mainit na binabati si Senator Bam Aquino sa kanyang privilege speech ukol sa TRAIN Law. Ako ay nagagalak dahil muli nitong binubuksan ang usapin ukol sa nasabing batas, lalo na sa isang panahon na binabayo ang sambayanan ng sunod-sunod na pagtaas ng mga pangunahing bilihin at presyo ng langis.

Noong aking nirehistro ang aking boto laban sa TRAIN Law noong ito ay ipinasa sa third and final reading sa Senado, at muling bumoto laban sa Bicam version ng batas kasama sina Senators Aquino, Panfilo Lacson at Sonny Trillanes, aking ipinahayag ang aking agam-agam sa nasabing batas.

I reiterate, the TRAIN Law has a big uncompensated impact on large families and individuals earning less than a minimum wage. The law is asking people who have already suffered so much in life to make more uncompensated sacrifices.

In fact, according to our own estimates, using the DoF's own micro simulation, 1.7 million "near poor" wage earners are in danger of becoming poorer. The cash transfers provided by the TRAIN bill to cushion the impact of the new tax measure to the poor are not enough.

Even the lowered personal income tax, while laudable, and something which I supported, is not enough to protect the poor from this new tax measure. We have to remember that majority of the poor have no personal incomes in the first place.

On the other hand, to those who will benefit from lowered personal income taxes, whatever additional take-home money they will have will be eaten away by soaring prices of commodities.

At ngayon, ang presyo ng krudo sa internasyunal na pamilihan ay umabot na ng $80 per barrel. Being a net oil importer, malaki ang dagok sa atin nito lalo pa dahil sa bagong petroleum excise taxes sa ilalim ng TRAIN.

Mismong ang gobyerno na ang umamin na ang monthly increases sa consumer prices simula Enero ay dahil sa oil taxes sa ilalim ng TRAIN.

The people could have been protected from these if the VAT rate was lowered from 12% to 10% in the passed TRAIN Law. More than the cash transfers and lowered personal income tax, a lowered VAT rate is the better and more reliable safeguard and mitigating measure to protect the poorest of the poor. It has a deeper impact.

If the government was not in such a rush to get the TRAIN passed, we would all have had enough time to see the wisdom of the proposal to lower the VAT rate from 12 percent to 10 percent and then to subsequently align it with the VAT regimes in the region.

The TRAIN Law would have been more acceptable if it lowered the VAT rate and monthly transfers to the poor were made available for a longer period of time corresponding to the phased implementation of fuel excise tax increases.

Dahil dito, aking sinusuportahan ang panawagan na suspindihin ang fuel excise tax, partikular sa diesel, LPG, kerosene at bunker fuel. Kailangan bigyan natin ng sapat na espasyo ang mamamayan na makahinga at makapagpahinga sa bigat ng dagdag na pasaning ito.

I also call on my colleagues to deliberate and pass Senate Bill No. 1671 otherwise known as the "Bawas VAT" bill. I filed the bill to provide relief for the lower economic deciles of the population affected by the TRAIN law by lowering the existing VAT rate to 10% from the current 12.

My proposed bill hopes to enforce a progressive reduction in the VAT rate reducing it to 10% effective January 1, 2019.

By January 1, 2022, the measure will again reduce the rate of VAT to 8% should the previous year's realized revenues from VAT reported in the budget of expenditures and sources of financing submitted to Congress equal or exceed four point five percent (4.5%) as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This will align the country's tax system with the ASEAN region.

It's time we strengthen the people's purchasing power. It's time for the public to cut clean from regressive taxation. It's time to cut the VAT.

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