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In the last four decades, the outcomes of reforms have been mixed - there have

been some victories but also serious setbacks. (Reside and Burns, 2016) Every new

implementation by the government, there are pros and cons. Past experiences of setbacks

on reforms, lead to ongoing debates of whether the proposed tax reform is truly beneficial

to those who need financial aids the most or is it really anti-poor.

The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) bill has been to

many criticisms despite the positive effects presented by the government.

The term reform is also deceptive, said Gabriela Party-list Rep. Emmy de Jesus,

because commodity taxes will eat up any gains that consumers will get concerning their

take-home pay. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian also questioned government officials on the

possible effects of high fuel rates on power prices. Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate also

said in a statement released to media that the new measure shifts the burden to citizens.

Despite income tax exemptions, fringe benefits will be taxed, and consumers will have to

shoulder taxes on fuel, sugary beverages, and property. ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio

Tinio said that the excise taxes on fuel stayed in the revised bill, which might not be

beneficial to consumers. He also questioned if the infrastructure to be powered by the

income generated by the revised tax scheme will indeed benefit the poor.

Labor unions expressed concern that the poor might be burdened by the higher

prices of goods, particularly refined petroleum products, certain vehicles, and sugar-

sweetened beverages, despite lower income tax.

Despite the condemnation, many are still showing their support to the bill.
According to the Department of Finance, majority of netizens who posted in their

page supported the tax reform. Lito Simba said Package One of the Duterte

administrations Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) is good for the country

because it will standardize and simplify the tax system, should be easier to comply, and

less cumbersome.

Dr. Kahar Macasayon, the president of the Philippine Public Schools Teachers

Association (PPSTA) has given his full backing to the proposed Tax Reform for

Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN), which he views as a beneficial tool that will

uplift not only the economic status of its members, but their dignity and morale as well.

In two separate positions papers, the Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) group

and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) called on the government to

use the TRAIN as a tool to clear the way for the countrys quick transition to more

renewable energy sources to help ensure a cleaner, safer and more sustainable means of

supplying the needs of the power and transport sectors.

Angara said that, The TRAIN bill will help build not only the countrys physical

infrastructure, but also its human infrastructure. When the poor have access to education,

healthcare and social services, they gain better opportunities, leading to better incomes

for their families,

With regards to lower excise of the Senate version of the bill compared to the

House Bill version, the committee wants to give ordinary Filipino familiesespecially

those with lower incomes, more time to adjust to the increases.

There are some who notice that the senate is moving slowly on the bill, but

senator Legarda said that, beyond getting more government revenues, the measure should

also correct the loopholes in the country's tax system. It is being reviewed carefully.

The Promise

The government is redesigning the tax system to be simple, lower and fairer and

more efficient for all, while raising the resources needed to invest in infrastructures and


To the people

As presented on the Department of Finance portal, the following are the visions of the

government if Tax reform will be enacted:

1. The tax reform proposal will be able to fund investments in education,

achieving a more conducive learning environment with the ideal teacher-

to-student ratio.

2. The additional revenue raised by the tax reform will be used to fund the

infrastructure program of the Department of public works and highways

(DPWH) which consists of major high ways, expressways, and flood

3. The tax reform program will be to provide the needed additional revenues

that would fund our countrys investment needs, promoting better lives for

Filipinos. Improvements that will further connect people, improve

mobility across regions.

4. Better healthcare by providing better services and facilities.

For compensation earners, they will have a big take home pay because of the tax

savings they can get from the proposed bill. Even those people who are not paying taxes

are also going to benefit. They are going to get better roads, better education, better job

opportunities and better health care services. (Finance Secretary Domiguez)

To the Economy

Globalization has put additional pressure on tax systems so that they are attractive

to foreign investors. Tax systems should foster economic growth through efficient design

that limits distortions and attracts foreign investment.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III told American business leaders that now

is the best time to invest in the Philippines, given its vibrant economic prospects

anchored on an unprecedented infrastructure build-up on the Duterte watch.

Dominguez further said that the Philippines benign interest rates, low oil prices,

positive credit ratings, low debt-to-GDP ratio and its young, dynamic workforce are

among the key factors that will help sustain robust economic growth beyond the medium

term and entice investors to relocate here. The TRAIN will ensure the fiscal sustainability

of the Duterte administrations massive investments not only in infrastructure but also in

human capital and social protection programs for the poorest of the poor.

The administrations ultimate goals in pushing tax reform is to sustain the pace of

economic growth to 7 per cent or better, bring down the poverty rate to 14 per cent in the

medium term, and pave the way for the countrys rise to a high middle-income economy

by 2022.

Even though the income tax package is overall positive to the taxpayers and the

economy, certain compromise must be made in order to outweigh the initial impact of the

change. The tax reform bill would also provide the poor and other sectors who will be

greatly affected with cash transfers and other forms of assistance to help lift them out of

extreme poverty and to make living conditions better.

Under the proposed TRAIN or House Bill 5636 approved by the House of

Representatives last May 31, 40% of the annual incremental increase from oil excise

taxes will go to social mitigating measures such as targeted cash transfers for the poorest

families, public utility (PU) operators and drivers, and electricity consumers in Small

Power Utilities Group (SPUG) areas or those not connected to the main transmission

system. The balance of 60% will fund projects on infrastructure, education, health,

housing and social protection.

Pantawid Pasada Program. The government will revive the Pantawid Pasada

Program, which will provide those with valid franchised vehicles cash cards to lessen the

effects of the potential slight increase in fuel costs due to the higher excise tax . It aims to

keep the fares at the same level

Jeepney Modernization Program. The government will also improve jeepney

engines to increase vehicle mileage and decrease carbon emission. It aims to replace

220,000 jeepneys, including 70,000 in Metro Manila, that are 15 years old and above,

with more fuel-efficient vehicles. This program will not only be beneficial to the public

vehicle drivers, but also to the environment.

Pantawid Kuryente Program. Households covered are those which consume

less than 100 kilowatts per hour. It will focus on lifeline consumers in SPUG areas that

use diesel or bunker fuel to power their communities. This program will not involve any

financing because this will be cross-subsidized by richer households

Unconditional Cash Transfer. The government will be providing 300 per

month for one year to households will low income, to help them keep up with the

temporary and moderate increase in prices.

On the TRAIN or Senate Bill 1592, that was issued last September 20, 2017.The

Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education is listed in the earmarking provision.

Free Tuition Law. Revenue gain from the Senate version of the Tax Reform for

Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) measure will fund implementation of the free-tuition

law that needs P51 billion, according to the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd).