The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday issued two temporary restraining orders (TRO) to stop imposition of higher tollway rates and the 12-percent value added tax (VAT) on toll fees, both scheduled to begin on August 16.
Supreme Court Spokesman and Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said the TROs were issued in response to the petitions of former Nueva Ecija Rep. Renato Diaz and former Trade Assistant Secretary Aurora Timbol, who said that tolls on roads and highways are excluded from the list of services subject to VAT.
The high court also issued another TRO on two other petitions on the toll rate hikes, including that of lawyer Ernesto Francisco, who filed a supplemental omnibus motion or a status quo order, against the 250-percent toll rate increase.
“A TRO has been issued to respondents… The BIR [Bureau of Internal Revenue] is given an unextendable period of 10 days to file their comments,” Marquez said.
“With regards the other two cases… a TRO is being issued as the two cases are being consolidated,” Marquez added.
Meanwhile, the Southern Luzon Bus Operators Association (SOLUBOA) said it will no longer seek a fare hike after the SC issued the TRO.
SOLUBOA president Homer Mercado was quoted in a radio report as saying his group was earlier planning to file a fare hike petition before the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board on Tuesday if the court did not stop the toll rate hike.
The SOLUBOA earlier wanted fares for buses plying the SLEX to go up by at least 50 centavos per kilometer if the toll rate hike pushed through.
BIR Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares on Thursday said only the Supreme Court can stop the agency from implementing a VAT on tollway rates.
During a Senate inquiry, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, and Senators Ralph Recto and Franklin Drilon opposed the move, saying a “government service” tollways should not be subjected to a VAT.
Sylvia Laureta, legal counsel of the South Luzon Tollway Corporation (SLTC), was quoted in a radio report as expressing “disappointment” over the court’s order, but said they will have to heed it.
Laureta said the SLTC will only implement the order once it receives a copy of the TRO. — LBG/VVP GMANews.TV