Palace losing grip on House’ majority – Colmenares


PROPONENTS of a bill seeking to lower individual income-tax rates remain optimistic that the House of Representative will be able to pass the measure despite strong opposition from President Benigno Aquino 3rd and his anointed successor, former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd.

Senior Deputy Minority Leader Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list on Friday said Malacañang is already losing its grip on the House majority and it is expected to deteriorate further after October when the election season begins.

Colmenares noted that the Palace could no longer maintain its power to dictate on members of the House not to approve the tax reform measure as the majority bloc is heading for a collapse.

|“So I think there is an opportunity to push the tax reform measures because hindi na malakas ang dictate ng Malacanang sa House [Malacanang’s dictate on the House is getting weaker],” he said in a media forum.

|The lawmaker, who is running for the Senate under the ticket of Sen. Grace Poe, noted that even congressmen allied with the Liberal Party (LP) are in favor of the proposal to lower income tax rates, although getting them to act on their own and be independent from Malacanang and from their party remain a challenge.

Colmenares said if members of Congress think that the tax reform bills are for the benefit of the people, it should be passed by the chamber despite objection of the President.
Being the representatives of the people, he added, members of Congress should serve the interest of the people, not of Malacañang or the LP.

Colmenares said Malacañang has no valid counter-argument against the proposed tax measure and even the Department of Finance (DOF) already admitted that there is a need to adjust the country’s tax bracket.

The proposed measure to lower income tax rate remains pending at the House Committee on Ways and Means headed by Marikina City (Metrto Manila) Rep. Miro Quimbo.

Under the bill, individuals who are earning below P180,000 annually will be exempted from paying income tax, while those earning above P180,000 will be taxed at 5 percent.

Those earning P1.1 million annually will be paying 30-percent income taxes at the higher rate the proposed law has set.

The Philippines has the second-highest individual income tax rate in the Southeast Asia at 32 percent, next to Thailand and Vietnam’s 35 percent.

Colmenares said voters should make the income tax measure as an election issue and ask presidential aspirants about their position on the measure.

Roxas has expressed objection to the proposed tax cut, claiming that some government services will be sacrificed if the proposed tax measure is enacted.

He asked proponents of the measure to identify programs that would have to be eliminated to justify the passage of tax reform measures.

Senator Francis Escudero, in a separate statemen, noted that no government projects should be stopped nor any citizen of the country be deprived of services in order to bring down income tax rates.

Escudero, who will be the vice presidential running mate of Poe, also noted that if Roxas truly cares about the people, particularly the four million middle-income workers who stand to benefit from lowering income taxes, he should find a way to make it work.


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