After commending the House of Representatives (HOR) for passing the comprehensive tax reform package, President Rodrigo Duterte in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday said its fate now lies Senate's hands.
"The fate of the tax reform is now in the hands of the Senate," President Duterte said, noting that the House has passed its version of the measure voting 246-9-1.
He followed his call by quipping: "If you think it's a waste, fine, I can survive."
"I call on the Senate to support the package in full and to pass it without haste," the President further said, this time pointing out that almost none of the senators were clapping their hands.
In May, President Duterte certified as urgent the administration’s first tax-reform package -- the proposed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill.
Unlike the House, several senators said that they were in no hurry to pass comprehensive tax reform package as they were concerned about the effect of petroleum taxes and excise taxes on poor sectors.
The tax-reform package seeks to lower personal income tax rates, expand the value-added tax (VAT) base, raise excise taxes on petroleum and automobiles, impose an excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages and ease the rates of estate and donor’s taxes.
President Duterte chided Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, for also not clapping. Angara is one of the senators who expressed concern about the package.
Angara’s committee is the panel responsible for deliberating on the measure.
He also joked about Angara possibly lessening his chance of winning a seat in the next senatorial elections because he showed less enthusiasm in passing the package.
Angara, in a chance interview after the President’s SONA, said that he will have to discuss the President’s request with his colleagues as many of them have expressed reservations on the package.
"We’ll continue to work with the President and the government to come up with a good tax deal," Angara said.
Asked if he felt slighted by the President’s joke, he said: "It’s okay, that’s the President’s personality. He’s half serious, half joking." (Azer N. Parrocha/PNA)