By Ben Rosario
All eight senatorial bets who debated at the ABS-CBN Senatorial Debate were in a chorus on which to blame for the inflation in the country – the TRAIN Law.
Responding to a question aired at the Town Hall Debate by Aya Lachica, a vendor, Liberal Party-backed Otso Diretso senatorial candidates former Sen. Mar Roxas, Gary Alejano, Romulo Macalintal, and Erin Tanada were positive TRAIN Law is the reason for inflation.
Former Local Government Secretary Rafael Alunan, former PNP chief Ronald de la Rosa, re-electionist Senator JV Ejercito were all in Cebu for a huge rally led by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Hosts Karen Davila and Alvin Elchico said former Sen Serge Osmena also begged off, although his name was originally in the list of debaters.
Federal Party bets Conrado “Ding”Generoso and Agnes Escudero agreed with their senatorial rivals, with the latter adding that taking advantage of the country’s gold reserves can address the rise in prices of prime commodities.
Former Pagsanjan Mayor Abner Afuang and former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares joined the chorus.
“Dapat magkaroon ng batas na tinatanggal ang tax sa tubig, koryente at langis. Dapat magkaroon ng isang aksyon na buwagin ang mga cartel na nagmamanipula ng mga presyo,” stated Colemares, a human rights lawyer.
Roxas, who is back in politics after a two-year hiatus, noted that the increase in excise tax under the TRAIN law cause higher transportation cost that triggered inflation.
Roxas also said the recently-signed tarrification law is also a factor for inflation.
“Filipino ang dapat magpakain sa kapwa Filipino,” he stated.
Renowned election lawyer and senior citizens welfare advocate Macalintal called on voters to reject senatorial candidates who were behind the passage of the TRAIN law.
“Huwag na ihalal ang ganyang uri ng mga senador,” he said.
Alejano, who is on his last term as magdalo Parytlist congressman, said they have acted in proposing the suspension of TRAIN law.
On the other hand, Tanada decried statistics data that indicated that 80 percent of Filipinos are poor. He called on equality in the implementation of minimum wage throughout the country.
“Epekto ng inflation, minsan mataas pa sa probinsya. Pero ang minimum wage sa Maynila ay higit na mataas pa sa probinsya, kailangan baguhin iyan,” he said.
Generoso blamed taxes and insufficient production of agricultural products for inflation.
“Imported ang bawang ang nandito sa atin kaya siguro maraming aswang. Kailangan nating ng bawang pantaboy sa mga aswang,” said Generoso.
During her turn to respond, Escudero said proper use of gold reserves could address inflation.
”Kung hindi ginagamit ang gold reserves ng tama, apektado lahat sapagkat ipapataw sa ating ang mataas na tax,” she said.
For his part, Afunag said it is about time to “derail” the TRAIN law.