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SC asked to halt TRAIN

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Three militant party-list representatives have asked the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday (January 11) to nullify the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) for failing to comply with the rules for its passage.

“Petitioners seek the writs of certiorari and prohibition on the ground that there was grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Respondent House leaders when they had the TRAIN Bicameral Conference Committee (BCC) Report ratified despite the glaring lack of quorum and several other violations of the Constitution and the House Rules insofar as it implements the Constitution,” read the petition.

The petition was filed by ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, and Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao who all sought for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the TRAIN.

They named as respondents in their petition President Rodrigo Duterte, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu, Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, and Deputy Majority Leader Arthur Defensor Jr.

The petitioners recounted that there was “no quorum during the last three minutes of its December 13, 2017 session.”

Because of this, they said “the House of Representatives cannot legitimately and validly conduct any business, much less validly ratify the TRAIN Bicameral Conference Committee Report.”

“Respondent House leaders therefore committed grave abuse of discretion when they disregarded the Constitution and the implementing House Rules with regard to the basic and prejudicial requisite of quorum,” they said.

“There having been no valid ratification of the TRAIN BCC Report, there was consequently no valid presentment to the President of a bill for his enactment,” they added.

The legislators, in a statement, hope the SC favors their petition and, once it does, “it will send a strong message to the leaders of Congress that they cannot just pass a law without a quorum and without a vote; that they have to strictly observe the Constitution, and, in particular the rules on ratification.”

“The success of this Petition will delay the implementation of the TRAIN and give more time for the people to protest and exert pressure against the TRAIN’s anti-poor regressive taxes — even if the House leaders attempt to rectify the invalid ratification,” they pointed out.