Press Release
September 15, 2015


Despite President Aquino's refusal to endorse the lowering of personal income taxes, its Senate proponent is not throwing in the towel, and expressed hope that his efforts to woo support will continue.

"I am an optimist. I believe in the better angels of our nature. I think that even those who are skeptical would come around and join our cause," Senator Sonny Angara, the Senate Ways and Means Committee chair, said.

"Ituloy natin ang pangungumbinsi. Kung naniniwala tayo na tama tayo, bakit tayo hihinto? We will be resolute in our advocacy but respectful," Angara explained.

Angara said the President may have been given an incomplete picture on the proposed tax reform bills.

"Ang kinatatakutan ko talaga ay hindi siya binibigyan ng tamang impormasyon ng kanyang mga economic managers," the senator said.

"I am still hopeful. Ang rekomendasyon nila noon sa Pangulo, i-veto ang pagpapataas ng exemption sa bonus. But still, the President signed it," Angara exclaimed, adding that given the right information, the President may reconsider.

During today's budget deliberations at the Senate, Angara questioned the P50.34 billion budget proposal of the Department of Finance that includes a so-called "budgetary support" for Land Bank and Development Bank of the Philippines.

"I'm definitely not in favor. Hindi masyadong urgent yan. Mas urgent yung umento sa sahod sa paraan ng pagbababa ng income tax na magpapagaan ng buhay ng halos limang milyong Pilipino," Angara said.

The senator likewise criticized the allocation of some P3.216-billion just for the construction of new buildings of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

"It's disgraceful. You are depriving people who don't earn a lot yet we're spending the government's money like it's our own personal money," Angara lamented.

Angara is author of a bill compressing the net taxable income brackets, and lowering tax rates especially for low and middle-income earners.

But in Iloilo City Monday, President Aquino rebuffed moves in the Senate and the House to reduce individual income tax rates saying that any reduction of the tax take could downgrade of the country's investment rating.

"To break the impasse," Angara urged the administration to come up with a counterproposal to his bill "so that we can find some middle ground."

"Matagal ko nang sinasabi na pagusapan. Kung ayaw niyo ng ganito kalaking bawas, anong porsyento ang komportable sa inyo? Hindi naman kasi pwede na, 'Basta ayaw namin. End of discussion,'" Angara said.

Another proposal worth exploring, he said, is the effectivity date.

"We can discuss when cuts will take effect. We can delay it, just tell us when, and we will study it. Ayaw niyo ng January 2016 ang effectivity, so kelan? Gusto niyo unti-unti hindi biglaan, tell us so we can agree on a schedule," he stressed.

Angara said if projected revenue loss is what is holding back the government from endorsing the tax cuts, "then we can pinpoint non-urgent expenditure areas which can be cut."

"Hindi naman kasi more or new taxes ang pwedeng pangtakip sa tax cuts. Pwede rin naman kasi bawasan ang gastos. We can attack that concern from the expenditure side. So the deal can be like this: We cut taxes by one billion. But we can cut expenses or fat in the budget by the same amount," Angara said.

"The justification we've been hearing is that we need taxes to fund the budget. So if we do away with unnecessary expenditures, will you now be amenable to tax cuts?" Angara said.

The Philippines presently has the second highest individual income tax rate in the region at 32 percent, next to Thailand and Vietnam's 35 percent.

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