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Congress urged to pass measure suspending excise tax on petroleum products


Peasant group Anakpawis on Friday urged lawmakers to pass a measure that would suspend the collection of excise taxes on petroleum products amid rising fuel prices.

At a press conference, Anakpawis national president Ariel Casilao called for the suspension of the 12% VAT and P10 excise tax on gasoline.

"Ito ang dapat inaatupag ng mga incumbent na House members at senador. Mabilisang mag-approve ng maaaring joint resolution or bill na mag-e-enact ng price control sa mga presyo ng produktong langis," Casilao said.

(This should be the priority of House lawmakers and senators. They should immediately approve a resolution or a bill on price control for fuel products.) 

"Umalagwa ang pagtaas ng presyo ng produktong langis dahil sa Oil Deregulation Law, kaya dapat itong putulan ng sungay sa pamamagitan ng legislative enactment," the former lawmaker added. 

(The price of fuel products has increased due to the Oil Deregulation Law and this should be stopped through legislative enactment.) 

He said the excise taxes imposed by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law should be repealed. 

The TRAIN law increased excise tax on fuel in three tranches from 2018 to 2020, bringing the total duties to P10 per liter for gasoline, P6 per liter for diesel, and P5 per liter for kerosene.

Casilao also accused Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi of not doing anything to address the situation.

"Noong Mayo hanggang Hunyo, naranasan ang rotational brownouts sa Northern Luzon, at noong Mayo, siya ang inutusan ni Duterte na mag-preside sa mga meeting ng PDP-Laban. Kaya hindi lang kuryente ang pinabayaan ni Cusi, kundi pati ang oil price hike," he said. 

(Rotational brownouts were experienced in May until June in Northern Luzon. That's the time he (Cusi) was tasked by President Rodrigo Duterte to preside over a PDP-Laban meeting. The issue on electricity and oil price hike had been neglected.) 

Cusi on Wednesday proposed to seek Congress' help to grant the Department of Energy the authority to suspend excise tax on fuel.

Meanwhile, a group of jeepney drivers and operators said they would not push for a fare increase as the people are still struggling due to the COVID-19 crisis.

"Sa ngayon, ang sinasabi naman natin bagamat kailangan nga ng mga driver at operator 'yung dagdag kita, pero hindi siya napapanahon lalo na sa kalagayan natin na nasa gitna tayo ng pandemya at kawalan at kakulangan din ng kakayahan ng ating mamamayan," Piston national president Mody Floranda said in the same briefing, which was attended by other militant groups.

(At present, what we are saying is that while drivers and operators need extra income, it is not timely to seek a fare increase because we are still in the middle of the pandemic and the public might not be able to afford this.) 

Some jeepney drivers earlier called for a fare hike of at least P3 to cushion the impact of the oil price increases.

A caravan will be conducted by Anakpawis and other groups next week to amplify their call for government action.  — VBL, GMA News

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