Marcos says no to excise tax suspension, to give 'ayuda' to transport workers instead

Philippine President-elect Ferdinand
Philippine President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. gestures during a press conference at his headquarters in Mandaluyong, Philippines on Monday, June 20, 2022. Marcos expressed fears Monday of a potential food crisis largely due to the war in Ukraine and said he would also serve as agriculture chief when he takes office to brace for possible emergencies. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said on Monday (June 20) that he is not interested in suspending the oil excise tax as this was a “blanket solution” that may not necessarily help those who are greatly affected by the soaring price of gas in the country.

Instead, he said that he will focus on giving financial aid, a tactic deployed by the current Duterte administration.

“I prefer to handle the problem on the other side of the equation and provide assistance to those who are in need,” Marcos said in a briefer in his headquarters in Mandaluyong on Monday.

Different transport and consumer groups, including lawmakers themselves, are calling on the government to suspend the oil excise tax amidst the continued hike in oil prices.

‘Belt-tightening’

Senator Aquilino
Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, right, gestures following a Senate caucus Monday, May 21, 2018, in suburban Pasay City, south of Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, in an interview, is calling the incoming Marcos Jr. administration to suspend the collection of the fuel excise tax, saying that he would also file a bill removing the fuel excise tax and the value-added tax in fuel transactions.

“We call for the suspension of the collection [of the fuel excise tax] because I think that is already an effective action,” Pimentel said.

As to the revenue losses the government will incur if this is implemented, he said that the government must resort to “belt-tightening” and forgo any non-essential projects that are deemed for “vanity” only.

“It has to be belt-tightening. We no longer have a choice. As a nation, I think we should really be open to belt-tightening,” said Pimentel.

“Let’s remove the so-called vanity projects – like seminars and other projects that are costly. Let’s review everything in our budget,” Pimentel added.

But the president-elect wouldn’t budge, and said in a presser that he’s currently employing a tactic that his later father, the dictator former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., did in the 70s.

Using diplomacy to resolve the oil crisis

Malaking problema itong nangyari na nagtataasan ang presyo ng lahat ng petroleum products. Wala naman tayong magawa, we just have to take whatever price we’re getting,” Marcos told reporters in a briefer on Monday.

(We have a big problem with the soaring prices of all petroleum products. We can’t do anything about it, we just have to take whatever price we’re getting.)

But Marcos said that ever since he realized that he’s the clear winner in the 2022 Philippine presidential elections, he has been hosting different foreign ambassadors and dignitaries whose countries have large oil reserves in hopes of striking a deal with them.

Lahat nung kausap kong mga ambassador inumpisahan ko na,” Marcos said. “Sinasabi [ko], baka mayroon tayong pwedeng pag-usapan in terms of … all of them who have supply of gas, who have supply of oil, I already opened the discussion with them dahil we have to explore na lahat, we have to explore everyone,” he said.

(I have already started negotiating with the ambassadors I was able to talk to. I said, maybe we can have a conversation … all of them who have supply of gas, who have supply of oil, I already opened the discussion with them because we have to explore everything, we have to explore everyone.)

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.

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