Tax reform law questioned before Supreme Court

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 11 2018 11:18 AM | Updated as of Jan 11 2018 03:14 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte is flanked by lawmakers as he signs the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, December 19, 2017. Rey Baniquet, MalacaƱang Photo

MANILA - (UPDATE) Left-leaning lawmakers on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to block the implementation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s tax reform law.

The measure was "illegally ratified and enacted" since the House of Representatives lacked a quorum when it was approved on Dec. 13, according to party list congressmen Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna, Antonion Tinio of ACT Teachers and Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis.

The law, which represents the first package of President Rodrigo Duterte's tax reforms, took effect on Jan. 1, raising duties on fuel, cars and sugar-sweetened drinks to offset a reduction in personal income tax rates.

"The bogus ratification was slipped through when the members, especially its leadership, were not attending the session in Congress but outside its halls, with some even partying at a 5-star hotel," the petitioners said.

The House ratified the tax reform bill on its last session day before it went on break for Christmas.

The petitioners said Duterte committed grave abuse of discretion as "he signed a document which is not a 'bill passed by Congress.'" 

Higher commodity prices "will be felt by those who do not even have payslips, by the farmer or fisher who have to contend with higher costs of production, and even by the unsalaried like a student or simple commuter," the petitioners said.

"TRAIN is a deceptive bigay-bawi (give then take) law for it takes away from the people what it gives in the form of regressive taxes which have long been oppressing the people," said Neri Colmenares, chairman of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers, which helped file the petition. 

MalacaƱang said it was leaving the matter up to the court.

"Only the court can conclude that there is grave abuse of discretion...Let the court decide," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing Thursday.