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SC asked to derail TRAIN

By Rey G. Panaligan

The Supreme Court was asked yesterday to stop the implementation last Jan. 1 of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act that was described as “anti-poor.”

In a petition, three party-list members of Congress also pleaded for a Temporary Restraining Order against TRAIN, Package One of President Duterte’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program.

Package Two of the CTRP that was reported to be introduced immediately would focus on the reduction of corporate income with rationalized fiscal incentives.

The petition was filed by Reps. Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers, Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, and Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis.

Named respondents aside from President Duterte were House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, House Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu, House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, and House Deputy Majority Leader Arthur Defensor Jr.

The petitioners told the SC that TRAIN, under Republic Act No. 10963, was enacted by the House of Representatives and signed into law by the President in violation of the 1987 Constitution and Rules of the House.

They said “there was grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondent House leaders when they had the TRAIN Bicameral Conference Committee Report ratified despite the glaring lack of quorum and several other violations of the Constitution and the House Rules insofar as it implements the Constitution.”

“There being no valid ratification of the BCC Report, there was also grave abuse of discretion on the part of the President as he signed a document which is not a “bill passed by Congress” and, therefore, has no effect as a bill subject to his approval under Section 27 (1) of Article 6 of the 1987 Constitution,” they said.

They pointed out that the Constitution and the House Rules mandate the House of Representatives to comply with the quorum requirement in its legislative business. Lack of quorum was raised during the Dec. 13, 2017 late night session, they stressed.

“The bogus ratification was slipped through when the members, especially its leadership, were not attending the session in Congress but outside its halls, with some even partying at a five-star hotel. It was a case of a fictitious congressional act without the members of Congress themselves,” they said.