THE Makabayan bloc in the Lower House yesterday went to the Supreme Court seeking to halt the implementation of Republic Act 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Act.
In a 34-page petition filed before the SC yesterday, Makabayan bloc Reps. Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers, Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna and Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis said the law should be declared invalid since there was no quorum when the Lower House ratified the joint bicameral conference report on the measure on Dec. 13, 2017, and there was no voting involved.
“The violations (lack of quorum) are clearly proven by the official video recording of the Dec. 13, 2017 session as live-streamed on that date and posted afterwards in the official website of the House of Representatives,” they said.
On top of the lack of quorum, the petitioners also said the requirement of a majority vote was not met.
Named as respondents in the petition are President Duterte, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu, Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Farinas and Deputy Majority Leader Arthur Defensor Jr..
The petitioners urged the high court to issue a temporary restraining order on the law, which took effect Jan. 1, pending adjudication of the case.
They disputed the government’s claim that the tax reform law, which slashed personal income tax rates while raising additional revenues for infrastructure and social services, would be beneficial to the public.
They said the new excise taxes on petroleum products and sugar-sweetened beverages, and its broader value added tax would hit the poor and low-income earners.
Train is the first package of the government’s proposed Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, seen to generate additional revenue to fund the country’s investment requirements.
It exempts those with an annual income of P250,000 and lesser from personal income tax and imposes excise taxes on petroleum products, automobiles, and sugar-sweetened beverages in order to offset revenue losses from lowering personal income taxes.
Due to the CTRP, the National Economic and Development Authority earlier said the country’s real gross domestic product would be higher by 0.5 to 1.1 percent by year 2022.
Solicitor General Jose Calida slammed the petition.
“Lack of quorum of Congress is that all you have to nullify the ‘Train’ Law? Thank you, your Honors, for making my job easier,” Calida posted on his Twitter account. He said the argument was a flimsy excuse. (pna)