Tax reforms, Cha-cha top Senate agenda

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THE comprehensive tax reform package and the proposed shift to a federal form of government will top the list of the Senate’s priority bills during Congress’ second regular session, along with 13 other measures endorsed by the Executive branch.

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However, the bill that seeks to reimpose the death penalty is not on the list of the Senate’s priorities.

The 17th Congress will begin its second regular session on Monday, two days after it convenes in joint session to discuss and vote on President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to extend martial law in Mindanao.

“While we may have achieved much in the first regular session, our work is not yet done,” Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd said in a statement.

Pimentel is the author of the Senate version of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Bill or Senate Bill (SB) 1408, which the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading in May.

SB 1408 is expected to generate a net gain of P100 billion on the first year of its full implementation, which the

government plans to use for infrastructure, education, and healthcare.
The figure is lower than the P130-billion projection of the Department of Finance in the first year of implementation of the House version of the Train Bill.

Pimentel’s bill is being tackled by the Senate ways and means committee headed by Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, but some senators have expressed reservations on some provisions they deemed “anti-poor.”

The proposed charter change that will pave the way for a shift to a federal form of government will also be given priority by the Senate, Pimentel said.

The Senate will prioritize 13 other bills endorsed by the Executive department, such as the Unified National Identification System Act; Security of Tenure Bill (End of “Endo” or Contractualization); the bill on utilization of the Coconut Levy Fund; the National Transport Act to address the traffic crisis; the Budget Reform Act; and the National Land Use Act.

The death penalty bill is still pending before the Senate justice and human rights committee headed by Sen. Richard Gordon.

Gordon suspended hearings in February after death penalty opponents pointed out that the Philippines had agreed to abolish capital punishment under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

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