Bam Aquino: Senators won't pass TRAIN 2 as it is

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 11) — The second package of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law might be moving in the House of Representatives, but its fate is still uncertain in the upper chamber.

"It's not moving at the Senate... A lot of the senators have said publicly because of TRAIN 1, parang mahirap pumunta sa TRAIN 2," Senator Bam Aquino told CNN Philippines' The Source.

Also known as the TRABAHO Bill or Senate Bill 1906, the TRAIN 2 proposal was filed by Senate President Tito Sotto and is still pending at the committee level. Its counterpart at the House was passed on the third and final reading on Monday.

However, Aquino clarified its slower progress did not mean the bill would fail in the Senate.

"Of course that's something for the majority to answer," he said. "But many of us-those in the minority and some of those in the majority, I think-are going to take a stand and say that's not going to pass as is."

Aquino is a Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, which handles issues relating to taxes, tariffs, and other forms of government revenue.

The bill aims to lower corporate income tax and reduce fiscal incentives offered to businesses. The senator warned that the lack of incentives could push industries to scale down operations and let go of workers.

"Mawawalan tayo ng trabaho dito... What industries have come out and said that they have problems with this law? You have the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, you have the [business process outsourcing] industry, the semiconductors industry," said Aquino. "All told this is about a million plus, maybe aabot din ng dalawang milyong trabaho. Natatakot yang mga industriyang yan na dahil sa pagtanggal ng insentibo, baka maperwisyo ang kanilang mga investors."

[Translation: We'll lose jobs... All told this is (over) a million, maybe even two million jobs. Those industries are afraid because with no incentives, their investors might take a hit.]

However, the Finance Department has disputed this, saying that lower corporate income tax could also entice investors.

Some senators have been skeptical of TRAIN, as its first package as not well received amid a tax on fuel and, subsequently, higher prices of goods. This comes on top of a rice crisis, a nine-year record high for inflation, and a weaker peso.

Aquino is advocating for the Bawas Presyo Bill, a measure that seeks to suspend excise taxes to bring down the prices of goods.