MANILA - Raising taxes on coal is "too burdensome" as it will affect millions of families who source their electricity from coal-fired plants, a lawmaker said Tuesday.
Senators want to increase the excise tax on coal to P100 per metric ton in 2018, P200 in 2019, and P300 by 2020 from the current P10.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said in his home province of Iloilo, 85 percent of electricity is from coal plants, and it could run up to 100 percent in some areas.
"I think this is too burdensome, too abrupt," he told ANC's Headstart.
"I have no objection to having a tax on coal, but let us moderate it and allow people to adjust and to have the renewable energy, give it time to be more within the reach of the general public," he said.
Consumer group Laban Konsyumer appealed to the bicameral committee, which is set to meet on Tuesday, to review the proposed coal tax increase as this would adversely affect those in Visayas and Mindanao.
"If there's a need to increase taxes, we propose there should be an elaborate discussion among stakeholders. What we regret there's nothing at all. It just came like a thief in the night," said Victorio Dimagiba, president of the group.
Environment group Greenpeace supports the tax increase, saying it will level the playing field and allow consumers to consider shifting to renewable sources of energy, such as solar power.
"We should look at it as exposing the true cost of coal. As of now, coal is the more expensive choice. It's P4.20 to P5.20 per kilowatt hour. Solar is 2.99 per kilowatt hour. If the discussion is where is the cheapest option, it's definitely renewable energy," Greenpeace campaigner Khevin Yu said.