THE country's economic managers have sufficient grounds for retracting their earlier proposal to suspend the next increase in excise taxes on petroleum products, said Malacañang on Monday, December 3.
"Well, I’m sure the economic managers have basis to make that recommendation. They are competent and able to explain themselves to the lawmakers," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a press conference.
Panelo made the remark after Senate economic affairs committee chair Sherwin Gatchalian warned to take a drastic measure to compel the executive branch to suspend the looming increase in excise duties on fuel.
Gatchalian, in a radio interview on Monday, said the Senate may strong-arm the economic team into pushing through with the suspension of the fuel tax by using the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019 as leverage.
"It's better to discuss this calmly so we can understand each other. But if this will result in adverse effects on our people, there may be strong-arming on the part of the Senate," he said.
Panelo, however, said Gatchalian's statement was the lawmaker's own opinion and may not be same with the views of other senators.
"You are only referring to one particular senator and there are 24 senators. His (Gatchalian) opinion or observation may not be shared by the 23 others," he said.
"The passage of the budget would again depend on the call of members of Congress. That is not for the President," he added.
Under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Law, an increase of P1, P2.50, P7, and P3 were imposed on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), diesel, gasoline, and kerosene, respectively, in 2018.
The next round of increases worth P2 in LPG, P4.50 in diesel, P9 in gasoline, and P4 in kerosene will be implemented in 2019, the Train Law provides.
The law also states that the second tranche of increases in fuel excise taxes can be suspended, if the three-month average price of Dubai crude exceeds $80 per barrel.
On November 14, Duterte approved the suspension of the scheduled increase of excise tax rates of petroleum products next year, in a bid to tame the surging prices of basic goods and commodities.
Duterte's economic managers, however, recommended on November 29 the lifting of Duterte's decision, citing the downtrend of fuel prices in the world market.
The new proposal will be raised during Duterte's meeting with Cabinet officials on Tuesday, December 4.
READ: Duterte to consider 'national interest' in oil tax hike decision
On November 30, Malacañang said Duterte's decision on the proposed implementation of second round of fuel excise tax increases next year will be based on "national interest and benefit to the people." (SunStar Philippines)