Lawmaker slams Diokno’s opposition to suspend oil taxes

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 20) — A member of the House of Representatives has called out Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno for his opposition to proposals to suspend oil tax amid successive price increases.

"Why is Sec. Diokno immediately opposed when the proposals aim to benefit the poor?" asked House Deputy Minority leader and ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro

Castro said there were other ways to ensure tax collections do not fall.

"They can tax the wealthy through the wealth tax," she pointed out. "Diokno has many excuses when it comes to helping the poor, like his opposition to Free College Education and even the suspension of fuel taxes.

"But when it benefits oligarchs like the Maharlika Investment Fund and when it comes to opposing the super rich tax, he is all for it," Castro added.

Diokno earlier warned there would be "serious consequences" should the government decide to push for the suspension of value-added tax and excise tax on petroleum products..

His statement came a day after House Speaker Martin Romualdez said they were open to discussing these proposals with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Diokno said there is an estimated revenue loss of ₱72.6 billion for the last quarter alone, and a full year loss could reach ₱280.5 billion, or 1.1% of the economy.

In her statement, Castro said a study by the IBON Foundation showed that if excise and value-added taxes are removed, gasoline prices would go down by 35.7%, 28.1% less for diesel, and 18.7% less for kerosene.

'This would be a tremendous help to motorists and consumers," she noted. "It would also cause a domino effect to lower the prices of basic commodities and services"

Fuel prices went up for the 11th straight week on Tuesday -- the per-liter price of diesel shot up by ₱2.50, while gasoline and diesel also increased by ₱2.

Castro added it was time to push for a more progressive tax system.

She said a system that charges according to the capacity to pay rather than "political and administrative convenience for the government" would be a great help.

Diokno has not responded to Castro's statements.