TWO SENATORS on Monday said lifting the excise tax imposed on oil products under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law is urgently needed to mitigate the impact of price hikes on consumers. 

“We have long borne the burden of the excise tax imposed on petroleum products under the TRAIN Law,” Senator Ana Theresia “Risa” N. Hontiveros-Baraquel, who is running for reelection, said in Filipino in a statement. 

“From P2.50 excise tax per liter (/L) of gasoline in 2018 to P10/L beginning last year. With every increase in its current price, there is also a corresponding increase in the tax charged,” she said. 

Oil companies on Monday announced the following price hikes effective March 8: P5.85/L for diesel, P3.60/L for gasoline, and P4.10/L for kerosene.

“It will have a huge impact on our countrymen — on our drivers, fishermen, small businesses, and even our electricity consumers, especially on off-grid islands that use diesel for power plants,” Ms. Hontiveros said. 

She also called on the government to provide assistance to those affected by the price hike through fuel subsidy for drivers, farmers, and fishermen. 

Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva recommended temporarily removing or decreasing the excise tax on oil or increasing the fuel subsidy allocated to each beneficiary.

He also said the government should look into ways to decrease gasoline consumption. “Let us give a solution to Filipino workers so that they can work even with the presence of this crisis.” 

Manila Mayor and presidential aspirant Francisco “Isko” M. Domagoso said on Monday that if he wins in May, he will write to Congress to immediately approve bills that will reduce the taxes imposed on oil and electricity. 

“We can always, through a motion, suspend the rules in approving proposed laws or bills,” he said at a live-streamed interview held at the San Andres Sports Complex in Manila.

“So through some initiative and sensitivity of our lawmakers, and through the leadership of the President, the President may ask the Congress for that matter, to pass the law immediately because there is a sense of urgency and state of emergency.” 

Meanwhile, Mr. Domagoso’s party, Aksyon Demokratiko, has written to Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay asking if the agency has sent a demand letter to the Marcos family regarding their unpaid estate taxes. 

“The BIR, which you now head, must renew written demands on the Marcos heirs to pay these tax liabilities once every five years, otherwise they prescribe and become uncollectable,” party chairperson Ernesto M. Ramel, Jr. said in the letter. 

“Past administrations under Presidents Ramos, Arroyo and Aquino have faithfully issued such written demands,” he said. 

“On behalf of all taxpayers and the citizens of the Philippines, I would like to seek a reply to the simple question: Did the BIR under your watch send a new written demand to the Marcos heirs regarding the P203 billion which they owe the Filipino people?” — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan and Jaspearl Emerald G. Tan