Legislators and Fisherfolks Calls for Immediate Relief as Oil Prices Soar
Congress has already passed the Deferment of tax for oil products in the Executive court as they intended to give prompt public relief as the petroleum products cost continues to spike affecting fisherfolks.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon expressed that Congress has already appealed Republic Act (RA) 10963, or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, suggesting to allow the suspension of tax once a definite level of global oil price is hit for three months.
Drilon stated, “As I recall it, under the TRAIN law that we passed, $80 per barrel is the price threshold for oil prices that serves as a basis for suspending the excise tax. Thus, we don’t need a new law. We will need a new law if we want to lower the threshold below $80.”
Drilon added, “That’s up to Malacanang. The problem, I think, is that the [Department of Finance] does not want it.”
According to the Department of Finance (DOF), postponing excise taxes can result in the government losing ₱131 billion in revenue that is genuinely needed to fund the continuing needs of pandemic action both in the health and economic sector.
Presidential candidates Senator Panfilo Lacson, Manila Mayor Francisco Moreno, and former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. support the temporary suspension of excise taxes to stop additional payments to the people who have been badly affected by the pandemic but also the increasing petroleum prices.
The Chairman of the Senate Public Services Committee considered the matter last Friday, after hearing the alarming situation of the transport sector.
Senator Grace Poe urged that if the executive office can favor tweaking tariffs on imported pork to ease inflationary pressures, they should also suspend excise taxes on oil products.
Poe mentioned that a temporary deferment would help the transportation sector during the oil products price increase.
Poe noted, “If DOF was able to bring down tariffs to help bring down prices of pork and rice even as farmers and local producers were pleading against it, the [government] should move as well to suspend excise tax on petroleum “for the welfare of our most affected citizens.”
In addition, she mentioned that the budget documentary showed that the excise tax on oil products reached ₱42.7 billion in 2019 and hit ₱41.6 billion in 2020.
Poe projects the excise tax on oil products in 2021 will reach ₱47.9 billion.
The 2017 Train Law ordered an excise tax on oil products beginning in 2018, starting at ₱2.50 per liter on diesel in January 2018, while gasoline at ₱8 a liter. In January 2019, the taxes rose to ₱4.50 on diesel and ₱6 on gasoline. In January 2020, the petroleum taxes jumped up to ₱9 on diesel and ₱10 on gasoline.
The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) expressed, that the increasing petroleum prices have intensely affected the fishing division.
The group explained that the cost of gasoline and diesel rose to ₱19.70 per liter, and ₱18 per liter since January 2021. Moreover, the standard revenue of fishermen who use diesel on a daily basis for their motorized banca (trawler) has been completely reduced to ₱120 per fishing trip from the already insufficient earning of ₱300 daily income.
According to Pamalakaya, the production cost for small fisherfolks increased to ₱180 per fishing operation, an overall of ₱720 a week or four fishing trips.
Furthermore, the group expressed that the sudden increase in petroleum prices reduced fishermens’ operation as they could no longer pay for the additional oil cost.
Pamalakaya National Coordinator Fernando Hicap pleads for the immediate passing of the Petron Re-Nationalization Act and the Downstream Oil Industry Regulation Act that pursues reverse the deregulation of the petroleum industry.
Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go claimed that the increasing oil prices in the world market are an extra load for Filipinos that are still struggling from the pandemic.
Go expressed an appeal to various agencies such as the energy, agriculture, and transportation departments to consider granting “fuel discounts or subsidies for “strategic sectors,” including public transport, food deliveries, etc.