Sen. JV shares apprehension over Train Law, Federalism

TARLAC CITY – Sen. JV Ejercito shared his apprehension over the passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion [TRAIN] Law and the possibility of transforming the country into a federal form of government.

In a press conference at the Museo ng Tarlac last week, Ejercito said that “indeed I voted in favor of the Train Law.” He is
a political ally of the President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Going back to the records of the Senate, I voted in favor only because of my advocacy to have a better railway system in the
country…but I almost voted no because I was really worried that it may affect about 18-million Filipinos. Those who do not belong to that
bracket will now shoulder the brunt of the excise taxes that will be imposed and of course kasama dyan yung rising prices of commodities
which is already happening right now,” the Senator said.

He noted that, “Maganda naman ang intention ng batas to exempt those in the lower bracket as they will not be paying anymore income taxes.
It will benefit about six million of our workers.”

According to Ejercito, the original version of the House measure was P10 per liter for sugar sweetened beverages and P3 for the first year
of petroleum excise tax and P3 for the second year.

“It will cost not only inflation but food inflation as well because it is double whammy for Filipinos,” he said.

Ejercito pointed-out that his proposal was to bring the excise taxes down and instead get the necessary funding the government needed from tobacco.

“My proposal was to bring it down [sweetened beverages and petroleum] and instead get the needed taxes from tobacco because in tobacco,
there is still room for increase because in the entire Asian region, we are still the cheapest per pack of tobacco prices,” he said.

Ejercito also said that he senses that there is a lobby group that is preventing the further taxing of tobacco.

“In the Senate version, it [petroleum] came out P1.75 on the first year and P1.75 again on the succeeding year while on the sugar
sweetened beverages it was P4. But in the bi-cam, it came out P2.50 for petroleum and P6 for sugar sweetened beverages so it was a bit
high. But I have to be honest with you, I was disappointed with the bi-cam because it was really high which I am really worried because of the inflationary effect…I also sense a tobacco lobby group that is playing here,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ejercito likewise shared his doubts over the federalism being pushed by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“I have my own apprehension about the proposed federal form of government being pushed at the lower House right now because some of
the regions that are not that financially capable of competing. Unlike that of Metro Manila, Region III, Calabarzon, Cebu and Davao as these regions are strong enough to stand on their own. The problem in federalism, the federal state, other areas like Samar, Mindanao, and other poorer provinces might not be able to cope up or might not be able to survive on their own,” Ejercito explained.

After the press conference, Ejercito, the Senate Committee chairman on Housing and Urban Poor and the committee on Health was accompanied by Governor Susan Yap, Vice Governor Carlito “Casada” David and other provincial officials in visiting the Tarlac Provincial Hospital,
Concepcion District Hospital and the La Paz Medicare Hospital.

The Senator also graced the inauguration and blessing of the Centro Merkato along Romulo Boulevard in Tarlac city.