Solgen wants SC to dismiss 2 petitions vs. TRAIN law

MANILA The Office of Solicitor General (OSG) has asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the petitions seeking to stop the implementation of Republic Act 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act.

In a 74-page comment, Solicitor General Jose Calida said the two petitions filed last January by Laban Konsyumer Inc. and its president, former Trade Undersecretary Victor Dimagiba and Makabayan bloc Reps. Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers), Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna) and Ariel Casilao (Anakpawis) must be dismissed due to lack of merit.

He claimed that the petitioners failed to make out a case of unconstitutionality or invalidity strong enough to overcome the presumption of validity of the TRAIN law.

To reiterate, the TRAIN law is not arbitrary, oppressive, and confiscatory, and does not result in the deprivation of life, liberty or property without due process of law. It does not violate the equal protection clause since it impacts mostly middle to higher-income Filipinos, Calida said in his comment on April 19.

At present, the TRAIN law is already effective and income wage earners are already experiencing the benefits of an increase in take home pay while the poorest of the poor who are also non-wage earners already received the unconditional cash transfer which will assist them in the price increase of commodities, Calida said.

Laban Konsyumer earlier sought the immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stall the implementation of the law or a status quo ante order to bring back the conditions prior to the effectivity of the tax measure. The group alleged that the TRAIN law is inequitable and regressive, arguing that taxation is equitable only when its burden falls on those who can afford to pay.

For its part, the Makabayan Bloc said the law should be declared unconstitutional for having been ratified by the House of Representatives and signed into law by President Rodrigo R. Duterte which was in violation of the 1987 Constitution and the rules of the House.

The petitioners said the tax reform law was invalid since there was no quorum when the House of Representatives ratified the joint bicameral conference report on the measure last December 13, and there was no voting involved.

Calida said that petitioners erred in filing the petition for review before the Court since such special civil action cannot be invoked against exercise of legislative power of Congress.

He said they also violated the principle of hierarchy of courts and committed a fatal mistake in not impleading Congress in the case.

"The government and the public in general will greatly suffer if the TRAIN law is declared invalid. The government stands to lose an estimated P146.6 billion in 2018 from the lowering and restructuring of personal income tax. This loss will only be offset by the revenue generating features of the TRAIN law, which is expected to provide P89.9 billion in incremental revenues for 2018 and P786 billion within the first five years," he added.

TRAIN, which was signed into law by President Duterte last December 19, was the first package of the government's proposed Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), seen to generate additional revenue to fund the country's investment requirements.

It exempts those with an annual income of PHP250,000 and below 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 said the country's real gross domestic product would be higher by 0.5 to 1.1 percent by year 2022. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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