Duterte open to Senate tweaking of tax package

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is amenable to the senators’ planned move to tweak the comprehensive tax reform package to make it more acceptable to the public.

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Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said the President has realized that the Senate as collegial body will have to seek the views of each senator. “He is open to amendments.”

The President, during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA), had asked Congress to pass the proposed tax reform measure “in full.”

He specifically singled out Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

“The President accepted that the Senate will retain flexibility insofar as finally deciding the amounts of taxes. Generally, the need for a reform in our tax structure is accepted,” Drilon said in an interview.

“My impression is that the President left it to the good judgment of the legislature, in consultation of course with the Department of Finance, as to what is the appropriate tax structure that we will finally pass,” he added.

Angara said the proposed tax reform measure will be easier to pass if the Senate will be allowed to revise some of its provisions. “We can find ways to make it more acceptable.”

The President met with eight senators, including Drilon and Angara, on Tuesday afternoon to discuss his legislative agenda and brief them on the peace and order situation in Mindanao.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd believes that the President is amenable to tweaking the tax reform bill after he told Angara not to take seriously his “warning” during the SONA.

Ang dating sa akin, personal reading ko kay Presidente, payag siya sa tweak. Payag siyang likutin namin. Hindi niya sinasabi na ipasa in full [My personal reading of the President was that he is amenable to tweak the bill. He will allow us to scrutinize it. He did not say to pass it in full],” Sotto said in a radio interview.

Drilon said the President did not request the Senate to pass the tax reform package in haste. “There was no such thing. We will deliberate on it. He did not impose any deadline.”

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