THE Duterte administration is ready to defend the legality of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Act, Malacañang said on Thursday, January 11.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the Train Law, having undergone rigorous legislative process, is constitutional.
"We will defend the Train Law. The power of taxation is one of those three that cannot be denied as among the state's powers, including the eminent domain and police power," he said in a television interview.
His statement came after members of the opposition Makabayan bloc from the House of Representatives asked the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the government's first tax reform package.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Train Act on December 19.
The law exempts minimum wage earners with an annual income tax of P250,000 and below from paying personal income tax. At the same time, it imposes an excise tax on sweetened beverages, petroleum, automobile, tobacco, and coal.
Party-list Representatives Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers), Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna), and Ariel Casilao (Anakpawis) filed a petition earlier Thursday, urging the Supreme Court to declare the new tax reform law as unconstitutional.
In their petition, the opposition lawmakers told the High Court that the House of Representatives committed grave abuse of discretion for ratifying the bicameral conference committee report for Train, despite the lack of quorum.
"Train rammed through major procedural requirements set bu the Rules of the Lower House, and by no less than the fundamental law of the land — the 1987 Constitution," the petition read.
"The invalid ratification occurred at an unholy hour, unholy not only because of the lateness of the time, but also because the ratification occurred under appalling, reprehensible circumstances," it added.
Despite the Makabayan bloc's claim that the tax reform law's ratification lacks quorum, Roque cited that under an enrolled bill rule, the court assumes that all rules of procedure in the enactment process were properly followed, once a bill passes a legislative body and is signed into law.
"They said there is no quorum when the Train was ratified by Congress. But we already have a decision -- the Supreme Court -- which is called enrolled bill theory," he said.
"Enrolled bill principle (means) that if the Senate President and the House Speaker signed (a bill), that's a certification that a law underwent a process, in accordance with the Constitution. And that is respected by the courts," he added. (SunStar Philippines)