Administration’s tax reform package ‘anti-consumer,’ says JV Ejercito

A senator who is allied with President Duterte said Thursday that he could not, in his conscience, support the administration’s tax reform package, which he described as “pro-government but anti-consumer.”

“While I support President Rodrigo Duterte’s various programs such as infrastructure development, I cannot in my conscience support the comprehensive tax reform program being pushed by the Department of Finance (DOF) as I see its current form as pro-government, but anti-consumer,” Sen. JV Ejercito said in a statement.

The President, in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, pressed the Senate to pass the proposed tax reform bill in full and with haste.

Duterte jokingly threatened Sen. Sonny Angara, chair of the Senate ways and means committee, that if he would not support the bill as it is, he should better watch out in the next elections. Angara has been pushing to amend the tax package.

“Bantay ka lang sa eleksyon; tingnan mo,” Duterte told Angara.

Many senators including those allied with Duterte have expressed opposition to the DOF’s proposed tax measure.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said they were willing to pass the bill but that it had to be scrutinized thoroughly.

Ejercito said that he could not understand the tax reform package’s intent to raise about P200 billion when the government still had almost P600 billion in unused funds in 2016.

“Our economy is running well because it is consumer-driven. That is why I am worried that the proposed taxes on petroleum and sweetened beverages might drastically affect our economy. If prices of commodities increase, this will have an adverse impact on the economy,” Ejercito said.

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