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[ 18 Mar 2015 | No Comment ]

According to the rules recently issued by the Bureau of Internal Revenue to implement Republic Act 10653, the higher tax exemption cap of P82,000 applies to the 13th month pay and other bonuses paid or accrued beginning January 1, 2015:

“The amount of P82,000 shall only apply to the 13th month pay and other benefits prescribed under the provisions of Section 2.78.1 (B) (11) of RR No. 2-98 as amended, and shall in no case apply to other compensation received by an employee under an employer-employee relationship, such as basic salary and other allowances.”

The Section 2.78.1 (B) (11) of RR No. 2-98 referred to enumerates the bonuses included in the tax exemption cap:

“(11) Thirteenth (13th ) month pay and other benefits. —
(a) Thirteenth (13th) month pay equivalent to the mandatory one (1) month basic salary of officials and employees of the government, (whether national or local), including government-owned or controlled corporations, and or private offices received after the twelfth (12th) month pay; and
(b) Other benefits such as Christmas bonus, productivity incentive bonus, loyalty award, gifts in cash or in kind and other benefits of similar nature actually received by officials and employees of both government and private offices.”

Benefits of similar nature include, per previous statements of the BIR, the PBB and PEI.

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[ 17 Mar 2015 | No Comment ]

10 Reasons Why The K to 12 Program Should Be Suspended: 

United by our commitment to serve the public through ensuring quality education for everyone, we, teachers, parents, students, administrators, professionals, and concerned citizens of the Philippines, call upon the second Aquino regime to IMMEDIATELY SUSPEND THE K TO 12 PROGRAM, BASED ON THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

1. The government is not prepared to implement a 12-year Basic Education Cycle mandated by K to 12, as manifested by the actual insufficiency of classrooms, libraries, toilets, and other facilities; textbooks, modules, and other instructional materials; teachers, non-teaching staff, maintenance staff and other education sector personnel in the old 10-year Basic Education Cycle.

2. The government’s actual education budget in recent decades never reached 4% of the GDP, while the global standard is pegged at 6% of the GDP, hence, the K to 12 program will be underfunded with predictably disastrous consequences.

3. The almost simultaneous implementation of three big educational reforms – Mother-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) in the primary level, the creation of a two-year senior high school at the secondary level, and the introduction of a trimmed down new General Education Curriculum (GEC) at the tertiary level – is very problematic and prone to ineffective and inefficient implementation as the government’s limited resources and personnel will be very stretched.

4. As proven by subpar National Achievement Test (NAT) results in recent years, the over-all quality of education in the Philippines is bad and stagnant if not declining, thus, to improve the quality of education, the government must prioritize the improvement of facilities and teacher training, and increasing the salaries of teachers and non-teaching personnel especially those in public schools, from the measly Php23,044 (Instructor 1 in state colleges and universities), Php18,549 (Teacher 1 in DepEd schools), Php9,000 (typical entry-level salary of non-teaching staff) to Php26,878; Php25,000; and Php16,000 respectively, considering that a PMA cadet’s monthly salary is Php27,425.

5. The enactment of CHED Memo No. 20, Series of 2013 which has trimmed down the college General Education Curriculum (GEC) and eventually cascaded subjects from college to senior high school, has led to the removal of vital subjects such as Filipino, Literature, and Philippine Government and Constitution.

6. Many courses – such as Housekeeping and Caregiving – in the senior high school curriculum are shockingly suitable only to overseas jobs, and/or beneficial only to foreign businesses – such as Medical Transcription and Contact Center Services, thus the K to 12 Program has no nationalist and pro-Filipino orientation, contrary to the requirements of Article XIV, Sections 2 and 3 of the Philippine Constitution.

7. Generally, the anti-tertiary education mantra of the K to 12 program will manufacture young and docile laborers who will be forced to accept and be permanently chained to low-paying and contractual jobs, at a time when even many college graduates are unable to find good jobs.

8. The K to 12 program is a prelude to the planned amalgamation/merging of state universities and colleges (SUCs) under the government’s Roadmap for Public Higher Education Reform (RPHER) which may result to the possible reduction of the number of SUCs, local universities and colleges (LUCs), and even the closure of small private colleges and universities. At the outset, it will lead to the massive displacement of around 100,000 professors, teachers and non-teaching personnel by 2016 when no one will enroll in the tertiary level; and beyond, once the slimmer GEC has become permanent, and in a number of colleges and universities, this scheme will also lead to the massive contractualization of both teaching and non-teaching staff, thereby weakening if not busting many unions.

9. Considering that more than 20 million Filipinos are poor as per official government statistics (close to 40 million as per World Bank data), adding two more years in high school will certainly be financially burdensome for many families at this point, hence it is an indirect assault to our people’s right to education. In some SUCs, the proposed annual fees for senior high school will reach a whopping 16,000 pesos – a 1,600% increase in the lowest college tuition rate in the country, on top of other school-related expenses!

10. No massive and genuinely democratic consultations with teachers, parents, students, and other stakeholders, were held when the K to 12 Program was being crafted, and before it was implemented; and the government did not conduct a nationwide assessment of the old 10-year Basic Education Cycle and the previous primary and secondary education curricula, hence the sudden shift to a 12-year Basic Education Cycle is all the more whimsical and at this point, baseless.






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[ 16 Feb 2015 | No Comment ]

I join the Honorable Senior Deputy Minority Leader [Bayan Muna] Congressman Neri Colmenares in condemning and denouncing the decision pertaining to the investigation into the Mamasapano encounter.

Mr. Speaker, malinaw na malinaw po ang kaisahan ng dalawang komite [House Committees on Public Safety and Order at Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity] na nag-imbestiga noong isang linggo na ipagpapatuloy bukas at sa Miyerkules ang mga hearing.  Totoo na naging magulo ang kondukta ng hearing dito sa House.  Pero totoo rin na sa kabila nito ay maraming mga mahahalagang impormasyon at mabibigat na tanong na dapat maitanong na lumabas sa hearing na iyon, lalong lalo na sa papel ni Presidente Aquino mismo sa pangyayari sa Mamasapano.

Isang nakabitin na tanong, Mr. Speaker, ay ang usapin ng pag-uusap ni General Purisima at ni Pangulong Aquino sa meeting nila sa Bahay Pangarap [noong January 9, 2015].  Pinatatanong ng komite kay General Purisima: Ano ba ang pinag-usapan ninyo ni Pangulong Aquino?  At kung matatandaan po ninyo, Mr. Speaker, binigyan ng komite si General Purisima ng hanggang bukas para ilinaw kay Pangulong Aquino kung mailalahad ba niya ang napag-usapan nila o magtatago sa executive privilege si Pangulong Aquino.

Mahahalagang tanong po iyan, Mr. Speaker, ngunit dahil kinansela ang hearing, hindi natin maririnig ang sagot.  Kaya ngayon, ang mga nakabiting tanong ay itatanong ko na nang diretso kay Pangulong Aquino–Pangulong Aquino, sasagutin mo ba ang mga tanong na ito, ilalahad mo ba ang buong impormasyon kaugnay sa iyong kapananagutan sa Mamasapano?  Ano ang mga pinag-usapan niyo ni General Purisima sa Bahay Pangarap?  Sasagutin mo ba ito, o magtatago ka sa executive privilege?

Hindi lang ito, hindi lang ang pagkakaturol sa papel at responsibilidad ni President Aquino ang nabitin ngayong natigil na ang nasabing House investigation.  Ngayon, nasa balita na, sa headline ng Philippine Daily Inquirer ang papel ng US dito sa operasyon sa Mamasapano.  “US behind Oplan Exodus”–Iyan po ang malinaw na report ng Philippine Daily Inquirer ngayon at ayon sa isang source na opisyal mismo ng SAF.  Ang opisyal na ito mismo ang nagkumpirma sa napakalalim na involvement ng US mismo sa operasyon sa Mamasapano, sa pagbigay ng intelligence information, sa paglabas ng pondo para mabili ang intelligence information, sa pag-command mismo ng operasyon.  Binanggit ang pangalan ng Amerikano, a certain Allan Konz, na nasa tactical command post daw sa Shariff Aguak at nagbibigay ng instructions sa mga tropa ng Special Action Force sa mga sandaling iyon.

Mr. Speaker, obligasyon ng Kongresong ito na alamin ang katotohan ng mga ulat na ito, Mr. Speaker.  Ngunit dahil sa desisyon ng pamunuan ng House, natigil ang imbestigasyon.  Tila binubusalan ang Kongresong ito.  Hindi po tayo makakapayag, dahil ang tanging nakikinabang dito ay ang Pangulong Aquino.

Malinaw po ang sinasabi ng Konstitusyon, na isang independent and co-equal branch ang Kongresong ito, ngunit bakit tila pumapayag ang institusyong ito na mabusalan ang pagsisikap natin na ilantad ang katotohanan hinggil sa partisipasyon ng US at panghihimasok sa mga internal na usapin, law enforcement operations sa ating bayan.  Bakit hinahadlangan na matunton ng Kongresong ito ang buong partisipasyon at responsibilidad ni Pangulong Aquino sa isang operasyon na nagdulot sa pagkamatay ng napakaraming Pilipino sa ngalan ng US war on terror?  Kaya kaisa po ako kay Representative Colmenares sa panawagan para ituloy ang imbestigasyon.

Maaraming salamat po. ###

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[ 1 Oct 2014 | 5 Comments ]

On June 26, 2014, an article entitled “Has your congressman/woman signed up for your salary increase?” was published on the official website of ACT Teachers.  The full text of the article read as follows:


Check the table below if your District Representative has signed as co-author of House Bill 245 or An Act Increasing the Minimum Monthly Salaries of Public School Teachers to Twenty Five Thousand Pesos (P25,000) and Non-Teaching Personnel to Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P15,000) filed by ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio L. Tinio.


This was followed by a table listing the names of district representatives and indicating with a “yes” or “no” whether or not they have co-authored HB 245.


The intention of the article was to urge teachers to lobby with districts representatives in order to get their support for HB 245 through co-authorship.


In early October, some four months after that article was posted, I got calls from a number of colleagues explaining that teachers in their district were making them account for voting against HB 245.


Clearly, there has been a misunderstanding. Somehow, the list on our website was erroneously interpreted by teachers not as a co-authorship list but as a list of those who voted for or against the bill.  This is unfortunate because, firstly, no vote has taken place and secondly, the teachers’ demand for salary increase enjoys widespread support in Congress.


In response to this feedback, we immediately took down the post and issued a clarification on our website.


I sincerely regret that the manner of presentation of the information on our website may have inadvertently contributed to such a misunderstanding and apologize to colleagues in the House who have been unduly affected by this incident. ###