How senatorial aspirants plan to respond to inflation

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 2) — Inflation is expected to slow down, but people are still feeling the pinch of high prices.

During the #TheFilipinoVotes Senatorial Forum of CNN Philippines, three senatorial aspirants laid down their plans to keep prices down.

Bam Aquino

Current Senate deputy minority leader Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV has been vocal about his stance against the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.  As one of the senators who voted against its passage, the re-electionist aspirant said that he will push for legislation that will remove the TRAIN provision that imposed a fuel excise tax.

I-correct po natin yung TRAIN law. Tanggalin natin yung buwis doon sa diesel at gasolina. Eto po ang nagpapataas ng mga presyo ng bilihin sa merkado,” Aquino said.

[Translation: Let’s correct the TRAIN law. Let’s remove the tax on diesel and gas. This is what causes prices to rise in the market.]

Aquino said that he wants the fuel excise tax imposed by TRAIN to be suspended not only that which will for the coming years, but also what is being currently imposed. He also slammed the economic managers of the Duterte administration for taking back its suggestion to suspend the tax.

Nag-uurong-sulong ang DOF pagdating sa increase ng excise tax. It's time for the Senate to take the lead,” Aquino said.

[Translation: The Department of Finance has been wishy-washy when it comes to increasing the excise tax.]

Aquino is running under the opposition coalition of the Liberal Party.


JV Ejercito

Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito was among those who voted for the passage of the TRAIN law. But like his fellow senator, he too wants further fuel excise tax increases suspended.

While the price of Dubai crude oil in the global market has gone under $80 per barrel, Ejercito said that the people might not be ready for the impending fuel excise tax increase that will be implemented this January. The TRAIN law has a provision that allows for the suspension of fuel excise tax increases when global oil prices hit $80 per barrel and above.

Ang sa akin lang po pahingahin lang po natin ang ating mga kababayan. Ngayon po na nakaka-adjust na dahan-dahan, wag po nating sakalin agad. Hayaan naman nating makahinga muna,” Ejercito said.

[Translation: Let’s allow the people rest from high prices. Let’s not choke them immediately when they’re now able to slowly adjust. Let’s allow them breathe.]

The son of former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada said that he also sees the administration’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program as a means to bring people out of poverty.

“It will spread out development, we will be creating new growth development areas in different provinces. That would mean jobs and opportunities. The immediate effect, it will mitigate and soften the impact of inflation,” Ejercito said.

Ejercito is running under the Nationalist People’s Coalition(NPC).


Serge Osmeña

Former senator Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III, the grandson of former President Sergio Osmeña, is targeting agricultural development as his response to inflation.

“We should lower the cost of production (of rice)... To bring it (rice prices) down some more you have to help the farmers at the same time,” Osmeña said.

The government is pushing for the rice tariffication bill, which would impose a set tariff on rice imports instead of the current quantitative restriction scheme. Both legislative houses have passed their respective bills and would have to meet as a bicameral conference committee in order to come up with a consolidatedbill for the President to sign.

Osmeña is batting for a 20-percent rice tariff in order to curb rice smuggling.

“What I'm going to do, right after the elections if we win, is to introduce a bill that first will bring down the tariffication of rice from 35% to 20%. Because at 35%, people will be inclined to smuggle rice and that is a big gap. We'll bring it to 20% so there will be less incentive to smuggle rice,” he said.

Osmeña is running as an independent candidate.