• Roxas slate groping for populist campaign

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    The administration ticket composed of presidential bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd and his running mate, Rep. Leni Robredo of Camarines Sur is still figuring out how to make their programs popular among voters with four months to go before election day.

    Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez of Akbayan party-list, one of the spokespersons of the administration slate, was referring to a uniform platform that the Roxas-Robredo tandem is expected to unveil before the campaign period starts in February.

    Roxas and Robredo have differed on the measure lowering individual income tax rates.

    Under the bill, the country will have four income tax brackets: those earning P180,000 and below annually are exempted from paying taxes; those who earn from P180,000 to P500,000 will pay 9.0 percent; individuals whose yearly income is above P500,000 to P10 million will pay 17 percent; and those with more than P10 million annual income will have to pay 30 percent.

    Roxas had said the measure would result in lower tax collection that could compromise existing projects, while Robredo is in favor of it.

    “We are done with the substantial part, but we’re in the process of reducing it into a more popular form. It would be tough to have a platform that’s a thesis. The thing with Secretary Mar is that because of his vast experience in government, he has very detailed plans,” Gutierrez said.

    Roxas has been a representative, senator, Trade, Transportation and Interior secretary.
    “This would be for popular consumption, so we have to make these things easy to comprehend, especially at the grassroots level. Hopefully we can release it in the next two weeks,” Gutierrez said.

    The thrust of the program, according to him, is to provide equal opportunities to the people for them to achieve their dreams through government services like the Bottom Up Budgeting, which allows local government units to identify the projects that their constituents need and eventually strengthening such initiative in a national scale. Also, there is a need to improve the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and the Conditional Cash Transfer program.

    “What we want to say is that when you are poor and you can’t send your child to school or you can’t afford healthcare dues, the government is there to help you. When you need a job, the government is there to address that. We should be free to dream and reach for it. On how to do it is something we are working on,” Gutierrez said.

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