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SC affirms constitutionality of TRAIN law

January 27, 2023 - Friday 6:01 PM by GDM Staff

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The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act, which was enacted during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

The SC, in a decision penned by Associate Justice Japar B. Dimaampao, dismissed the consolidated petitions filed by then ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio and Laban Konsyumer, Inc. to strike down the said law for being unconstitutional.

Thirteen SC magistrates voted to dismiss the petitions. Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa dissented, while Justice Ricardo Rosario was on wellness leave.

The petitioners argued, among others, that there was no quorum when the House of Representatives passed the measure. They also argued that its provisions which imposed excise taxes on diesel, coal, liquefied petroleum gas, and kerosene, were prohibited regressive taxes.

The SC held that the supposed absence of a quorum was belied by the official Journal of the House, both on the day that the TRAIN’s Bicameral Conference Report was ratified and the immediately subsequent session on January 15, 2018. 

“As between the livestream video and photographs presented by the petitioners, and the Congressional Journal, the latter must prevail as to the events on the Congressional floor on that fateful day given that no less than the Constitution itself grants the Congressional Journal its imprimatur,” the SC PIO said.

The decision also reiterated that the Constitution does not prohibit the imposition of regressive taxes, but merely directs Congress to evolve a progressive system of taxation.

The SC has yet to release the full decision of the case.

The TRAIN law was one of the tax packages passed by the Duterte administration and it lowered the personal income taxes but at the same time imposed new or higher taxes on “sin products,” among others.

Meanwhile, House Ways and Means Chair Joey Salceda welcomed the decision affirming the constitutionality of the TRAIN law, which he principally authored during the 17th Congress.

“The vote showed a near-total consensus among Justices that the Court will respect Congress’ long-established breadth of latitude over fiscal policy. That gives us a lot of room to improve tax policy, without fear of the Supreme Court striking these reforms down unjustly.”

“The ruling affirms that, indeed, Congress is where tax law is written. That strengthens the hand of the House Committee on Ways and Means to continue its policy reform and tax oversight efforts,” Salceda added.