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TRAIN's legality questioned before Supreme Court.

Members of the Makabayan bloc from the House of Representatives, together with the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL), asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to declare as unconstitutional Republic Act 10963, or the Tax Reform for Advancement and Inclusion (TRAIN Law).

While the case is pending in court, petitioners urged the high court to issue a restraining order stopping its implementation.

In their petition, they told the high court that the House of Representative leaders committed grave abuse of discretion for ratifying the bicameral conference committee report for TRAIN 'despite the glaring lack of quorum.'

Article VI Section 16(2) of the 1987 Constitution provides that 'a majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business.'

In this case, however, petitioners said the lower house violated the law when it ratified the TRAIN bicameral conference committee report with barely 10 to 15 House members present on the floor on Dec. 13, 2017 at about 10:45 in the evening.

Petitioners ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio and Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate said they raised their objection during the Dec. 13, 2017, session but were ignored. Another petitioner is Anakpawis Representative Ariel 'Ka Ayik' Casilao.

'Congress is bereft of authority or power to validly pass laws - especially anti-people ones widely contested by the people such as TRAIN - when it brazenly disregards the quorum requirement, a very basic rule of democracy and even elementary rules of order. What should always apply is the Constitution and the so-called rule of law, not the Rule of the Railroad,' NUPL president Edre Olalia said.

'This largely regressive imposition was practically rammed down the people's throats while a number of legislators were fiddling while the country was burning - in a manner of speaking - as they were reportedly already partying the night away in a nearby posh hotel,' he added. Olalia was referring to the PDP-Laban Christmas party at Hotel Sofitel.

Petitioners added that President Rodrigo Duterte himself also committed grave abuse of discretion when he signed TRAIN into law even if it was invalidly ratified.

'What could only be presented to the President for his signature is a 'bill passed by Congress,' petitioners said meaning the process should have followed what is required under the law. /cbb

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jan 11, 2018
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