House 'supermajority' members unhappy with tax reform bill

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 01 2017 01:08 AM

MANILA - Several members of the "supermajority" in the House of Representatives were unhappy with the comprehensive tax reform plan they passed. 

Despite voting for the bill, Camarines Sir 3rd District Rep. Gabriel Bordado said he is disturbed by the proposed excise taxes on petroleum products.

"I am however disturbed by the proposed excise taxes on petroleum products and their negative impact on the economically disadvantaged and marginalized sectors and the these excise taxes will eventually wipe out whatever gains we will get from the tax cuts and exemptions. we have to come up with the mechanisms and systems to protect the vulnerable sectors of the community," he said.

Siquijor Rep. Rav Rocamora spoke in favor of the bill despite his misgivings.

"Let us ensure though that DSWD is fully up to task in implementing the unconditional cash transfer to cushion the impact of the price increases, if there will on our marginalized sectors. For the sugar tax, I hope what comes out of the bicam report of this measure is simply a higher tax on high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as putting a tax differential between an imported and a local product can be subject to a WTO dispute," he said.

Other majority members voted against the bill.

Manila Rep. Sandy Ocampo expressed concerns about the inflationary effect of excise taxes amid the reduction of personal income taxes.

"I do realize that the government needs funds…there are specific provisions I do not agree on that basis I would vote no," he said. 

Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves maintained his position against the bill.

"I voted no because as I've always said. Para sa akin dapat kolektahan yaong 'di nagbabayad ng buwis sa BIR at sa Customs kaysa kolektahan ng dagdag na buwis 'yung taongbayan," he said.

Makabayan bloc lawmakers slammed the approved measure.

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said the excise taxes on fuel remained in the revised bill, which might not be beneficial to consumers. 

He also asked if the infrastructure projects to be funded by the income generated by the revised tax scheme will indeed benefit the poor.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said in a statement released to media that the new measure shifts the burden to citizens. Despite income tax exemptions, fringe benefits will be taxed, and consumers will have to shoulder taxes on fuel, sugary beverages, and property.

The term “reform” is also deceptive, said Gabriela Party-list Rep. Emmy de Jesus, because commodity taxes will eat up any gains that consumers will get concerning their take-home pay.

"Anumang kabawasan sa personal income tax ay babawiin naman sa pagtataas ng presyo ng bilihin at pamasahe na direktang epekto ng pagpapataw ng excise tax sa mga produktong petrolyo," Kabataan Party list Rep. Sarah Elago said.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dakila Carlo Cua rebutted the concerns on inflation, saying that research by the Department of Finance shows the tax reform bill would only have a little effect on inflation.

Cua added that the bill will "grow" the middle class. "Pero 'yung ating middle class naman siguro naman nabalita na natin na P250 thousand ang palubag sa lahat ng fixed income earners plus may P100 thousand na tax free-bonus."

Cua also said the poorest of the poor can get unconditional cash subsidies of P300 a month. 

"For 50% of the poorest families. Ten million families...ito walang kundisyon pwede nila gamitin kahit saan," he said.

On the other hand, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez cited the comprehensive tax reform package the chamber approved as an achievement of his watch during the first regular session of the 17th Congress. 

In his sine die adjournment speech on the last day of the first regular session of the 17th Congress, Alvarez said: "This legislative measure will correct the outdated system of the 1997 National Internal Revenue Code."