P40B for poor affected by TRAIN now ready--solon

By Celso Amo LEGAZPI CITY --- Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said an allocation of P40B as financial assistance to some ten million poor families in the country to be affected by the Train Law is now ready. “Those poor families will receive some P300 monthly for three years,” said Gatchalian who was here to distribute relief goods to Mayon evacuees from Guinobatan (2,764 families or 9,305 persons), Camalig (2,436 families or 9,232 persons) and Legazpi City (3,054 families or 11,633 persons). Gatchalian who chairs the Senate committee on energy and economic affairs said he was satisfied by the relief assistance and medical services being extended to some 17,346 families or 66,097 persons inside the 60 evacuation centers in the province of Albay. Gatchalian also said there are now portalets delivered in evacuation centers. “Tagaytay City has donated toilets to the evacuation sites we visited and we will support to make it a permanent fixture in evacuation centers that will be there whenever Mayon becomes restive in the future,” he said. “There’s a strong connection between inflation and hunger,” said Gatchalian who added that as prices of basic commodities increase, the number of persons who suffer from hunger also rises. “That’s why when we debated before the passage of the TRAIN Law, we also provided safety nets to those who will be affected, the poor,” said Gatchalian. “This P300 assistance is provided in the Train Law for poor families,” explained Gatchalian. He said the Department of Finance will release the amount on first quarter this year, he said. Republic Act 109603 or Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) law exempts from paying taxes the first P250,000 annual taxable income, meaning those earning P21,000 or less a month would no longer need to pay income taxes. It also raises the tax exemption for 13th month pay and other bonuses to P90.000. However, to compensate for loss of revenue from income taxes, Filipinos will have to pay an excise tax on sweetened beverages, and higher excise taxes on such items/industries as petroleum, coal, automobile, tobacco and mining. Critics underlined that while the TRAIN law is favorable for minimum wage earners because of tax exemptions, it becomes worse, if not even, because of the high cost of goods and other products, including the likely fare hike of public utility vehicles because of higher cost of petroleum products due to high excise taxes.