Press Release
October 15, 2018


Devote time and resources to the economy.

This was the message of Sen. Grace Poe amid a deluge of increased consumer prices, largely on account of hikes in global oil trade and partly brought about by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, which imposed additional taxes on petroleum products and sweetened beverages.

"The focus should really be on the economy... so that people's lives will be better, not some highfaluting interpretation of the economy but the prices of goods. Those are really affecting our countrymen," said Poe in a television interview after she filed her certificate of candidacy for senator on Monday when asked what should be the focus of the 2019 midterm polls.

Poe, who was among the 17 senators who asked President Duterte to support moves for both Houses of Congress to suspend further increases in excise taxes on diesel, gasoline, and other petroleum products for 2019 and 2020, said state agencies should implement with no delay the social mitigating measures to cushion price spikes mandated in the TRAIN Law.

"'Yun ang problema, they collect taxes but the programs that are promised are not delivered immediately or are not delivered at all. You want to support the initiative of the government to collect taxes but you have to follow the provisions that say 'yung mga fuel vouchers, unconditional cash transfers, discounts for senior citizens and the like should also be implemented alongside, and as quickly as the collection of taxes," added Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services who earlier held public hearings on the impact of the tax reform program on fuel, electricity, water and transportation.

Poe expressed concern about the implementation of the first tranche of the tax reform package, especially as regards the delivery of social protection measures for the poor.

"With the way that they are implementing it, the failure to be able to deliver on certain promises and programs of the government, of course I feel that we've kind of been doublecrossed. Because we wanted to support the President, on his appeal that we need money to be able to push for programs. Okay, we're there but then there are also provisions there that said to cushion the taxes, the poorest of the poor should be able to benefit from the collection," Poe said.

The senator found it ironic that the respective budgets of key state agencies were slashed under the proposed 2019 General Appropriations Act, which is currently being deliberated in Congress.

"Ang nangyayari ngayon, lumabas ang budget, they slashed the budget of the Department of Agriculture, they did the same thing to the Department of Health; so parang kung kailan pa tayo nagtaas ng tax, ganoon mo pa puputulin ang mga programs ng gobyerno na mararamdaman ng mahihirap, so natural, mali," said Poe. "Kaya nga itong TRAIN 2 nila na tinatago nila sa pangalan na Trabaho bill, ay baka mahirapan na talaga ito."

Poe, co-author of the rice tariffication bill which will slap a 35-percent tariff rate in lieu of quantitative restrictions that limits the volume of rice imports every year, said she was backing the measure because it will likely result in reduced rice prices.

"One of the things that I am pushing for is the rice tariffication law that will require importers to pay taxes for the rice that they import, provided that the taxes they collected should go to the development of the farmers."

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