MANILA, Philippines – Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara received a special mention from President Rodrigo Duterte during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) when he asked the Senate to approve the comprehensive tax reform package.
The President noticed that Angara was not among those applauding as he talked about the measure.
He had earlier praised the House of Representatives for passing its own version.
The bill, however, remains pending at the committee level at the Senate.
“Si Angara ayaw mag-clap … patay ka sa election,” Duterte quipped.
Angara is the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee tackling the tax bill. He is a re-electionist in the 2019 mid-year polls.
The version passed by the House, called Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion Act or TRAIN Bill, effectively reduces the tax to be paid by individual income earners.
But, at the same time, it imposes higher taxes on fuel products and automobiles, as well as remove the value added tax exemptions on some goods and services, and introduce higher taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages.
The revenues to be generated from the new tax measures are to be used for funding projects for the “poor and the vulnerable,” the President said.
In his speech, the President asked the Senate to pass the measure “in full,” saying that after the House approved its version, “the fate of the tax reform is now in the hands of the Senate.”
Earlier reports said that some senators were critical of the House version and wanted some provisions tweaked.
Asked for his reaction, Angara said he believed he was mentioned because he was the committee chairman. He said the panel would continue conducting hearings every week, saying that the measure has been declared urgent by the President.
“We will continue to do that until we come up with a good version,” he said.
As to the President’s jest about the elections, he said, “Alam mo naman si Presidente, pabiro lagi (You know the president, he’s always kidding).”