The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) assisted today ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio Tinio, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, and Anakpawis Rep. Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao in questioning as unconstitutional before the Supreme Court Republic Act 10963 or the Tax Reform for Advancement and Inclusion (TRAIN)
The petition for certiorari and prohibition alleges grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Respondent leaders of the House of Representatives for invalidly ratifying the bicameral conference committee report for TRAIN despite the glaring lack of quorum, in violation of the Constitution.
Despite the mandate in Section 16 (2), Article VI which states that “A majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business,” the Lower House “ratified” the TRAIN bicameral conference committee report with barely 10 to 15 House Members present on the floor on December 13, 2017 at around 10:45 in the evening.
Respondents also violated the Rules of the House of Representatives which implement the Constitution when they deliberately ignored the Petitioners’ repeated objections as to the lack of quorum and proceeded to invalidly ratify TRAIN.
“Congress is bereft of authority or power to validly pass laws–especially anti-people ones widely contested by the people such as TRAIN–when it brazenly disregards the quorum requirement, a very basic rule of democracy and even elementary rules of order. What should always apply is the Constitution and the so-called rule of law, not the Rule of the Railroad,” said NUPL President Atty. Edre Olalia.
“This largely regressive imposition was practically rammed down the people’s throats while a number of legislators were fiddling while the country was burning – in a manner of speaking – as they were reportedly already partying the night away in a nearby posh hotel,” he added.
The petition also alleges grave abuse of discretion on the part of President Rodrigo Duterte for signing the invalidly ratified TRAIN, also in violation of the Constitution which provides that what could only be presented to the President for his signature is a “bill passed by the Congress” (Section 27 (1) of Article VI).
The petition prays for a temporary restraining order or injunction against the implementation of the TRAIN.
“Let us be clear: We are not against the lowering of personal income taxes for the people, especially marginal and middle-income earners,” said Former Bayan Muna lawmaker and NUPL Chairman Atty. Neri Colmenares.
“Income and wealth redistribution through tax justice has been one of our long-standing advocacies inside and outside Congress.”
“But TRAIN is a deceptive bigay-bawi law for it takes away from the people what it gives in the form of regressive taxes which have long been oppressing the people. TRAIN’s new and heavier excise taxes on oil products, coal, and sugar-sweetened beverages and further expansion of the VAT will ram into the people with higher costs of basic goods and services,” added Colmenares, author of a bill lowering income taxes for individuals in the previous Sixteenth Congress, which was refiled by the Petitioners and the rest of the Makabayan bloc of progressive party-lists in the current Seventeenth Congress.
The Petition states that the opposition of Petitioners, on behalf of the people, against the largely regressive nature of TRAIN “forms the underlying reason for Petitioners’ insistence that night for their objections to be heard, recognized, and ruled on in accordance with the Constitution and the House Rules, and for their plea now for the Honorable Court to declare that RA 10963 is a product of a document ‘ratified’ by the House when it was in no position to validly ratify.”
“What was illegally slipped past constitutional barriers was a grand deception. On its face, individual taxpayers such as the everyday worker, teacher, or professional will see from their payslips and ITRs the significant increases in their take-home pay. But the total package illegally ratified and enacted as RA 10963 makes its effects felt past the four corners of the people’s payslips, spilling over into their daily lives in the form of higher costs of food, water, electricity, everything. It will be felt by those who do not even have payslips, by the farmer or fisher who have to contend with higher costs of production, and even by the unsalaried like a student or simple commuter,” the Petitioners asserted.
The suit impleads President Duterte, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas, Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu, and Deputy Majority Leader Arthur Defensor, Jr.. ###
Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares
Atty. Edre U. Olalia
Atty. Maria Cristina P. Yambot
+63 917 847 0301