AT LEAST four senators expressed concern over the plan of the government’s economic advisers to no longer recommend the suspension of the second fuel tax hike mandated under the TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) Law noting that the people are still reeling from the effects of inflation.
Senator Sonny Angara said that despite the seven consecutive rollbacks in fuel prices brought about by the downtrend in international oil prices, their effects have not yet been felt by the Filipinos since prices of commodities are still high.
“Hindi ito dapat nagtatapos sa rollback. Dapat sundan din ito ng rollback sa presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin,” Angara said.
He added that he has still to receive information that the government has provided in full the social mitigating measures including the unconditional cash transfer, pantawid pasada, and discounts, that he said would protect the Filipinos from high costs of products.
He insisted that if the administration has decided to continue the implementation of excise tax, they must first assure that inflation has gone down while social aids are fully implemented.
Senator Koko Pimentel meanwhile urged the government economic managers to fight inflation instead of pursuing revenues for the state.
“Inflation is a dangerous phenomenon which should be slain on sight when it rears its ugly head. Hence, our economic managers should make up their minds on whether to fight inflation or pursue revenues,” he said.
“I suggest we fight inflation now,” he said.
Senator JV Ejercito also urged President Rodrigo Duterte not to “walk back” on the decision to suspend the fuel excise tax and lighten the load of the Filipino families.
“Ngayong nakakahinga na nang kaunti ang ating mga kababayan e papatawan na naman natin ng pagtaas ng buwis na tiyak na magpapataas muli sa presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin. Let us allow inflation to continue its downward trend so the situation stabilizes,” Ejercito said.
He added that the people has been biting the bullet for the common good and now it is the turn of the government to bite the bullet for the welfare of the majority of the Filipinos.
Opposition Senator Bam Aquino tagged the administration as “paasa” or promoting false hopes in first announcing the suspension of excise tax but later on deciding to reverse it.
“Huwag naman sana silang paasa. Ang hiling dapat ng taumbayan, hindi ng DBM (Department of Budget and Management), ang dinggin ng Malacanang, lalo na ngayong Kapaskuhan,” Aquino said.