FINANCE SECRETARY Carlos G. Dominguez III has asked the President to veto a provision in the sin tax bill passed by Congress that states the government cannot conduct a raid without a court order, saying this is currently allowed by law.

“I want him (President Rodrigo R. Duterte) to take out one line there. May line there na we cannot raid before the court order. Hindi pwede ’yan (That’s not allowed), Mr. Dominguez told reporters on Friday evening.

The bill imposing higher excise taxes on electronic cigarettes, vapor products and alcoholic products was passed and ratified by the 18th Congress on Dec. 18 and is now up for the President’s approval.

Mr. Duterte has until Jan. 24 to sign or veto the bill before it lapses into law.

Mr. Dominguez said currently, investigations can be done without court orders to check further anomalous or discrepancies in the firms’ records or inventories.

“That’s allowed by the law. Why will you remove that? That’s how we catch these guys. Hindi pwede ’yun (That can’t be). This one will only apply to the alcohol…bill eh. Alcohol and e-cigarettes,” he said.

Mr. Dominguez said the provision was likely inserted at the House of Representatives under the alcohol bill.

Sa House. They think we do not read it line by line, we do. Wala pang isang line eh (It did not cover even one line),” he said.

Under Article VI, Section 27 (2) of the Constitution, the President may execute a line or item veto in an appropriation, revenue or tariff bill. This veto will not invalidate the entire bill, just the particular item under consideration.

Mr. Dominguez said he met with Mr. Duterte almost four times last week but forgot to bring up the issue.

However, the Finance chief said his office already sent a memorandum to Mr. Duterte’s office on the matter after the bill got out of the Congress last month.

“I should have mentioned it to him. I sent him a memo already right after the bill was passed towards the end of the year (2019),” he said.

The tax measure is expected to raise P22.2 billion in fresh revenues during the first year of implementation where 60% will be earmarked for the Universal Health Care program, 20% for Health Facilities Enhancement Program and the remaining 20% to support initiatives for the attainment of the country’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The measure is the Package 2+ of the Duterte administration’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, along with other measures such as Package 1 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act and Package 1B or the Tax Amnesty Act, which were already signed into law.

The remaining priority measures that have yet to be passed by Congress are the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization bill, the mining tax bill, the real property tax bill and the measure that will simplify the tax structure for financial investments. — Beatrice M. Laforga