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[ 2 Oct 2014 | One Comment ]

On 26 September 2014, the House of Representatives in plenary approved on third and final reading our House Bill 2970, An Act Increasing the Ceiling for the Total Exclusion from Gross Income of 13th Month Pay and Other Benefits to Seventy Thousand Pesos (P70,000), Amending for the Purpose Section 32(B)(7)(E) of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as Amended.

HB 4970 seeks to exempt from income tax up to P70,000, from the current P30,000, 13th month pay and other benefits such as productivity incentives and Christmas bonus.  It also mandates the Secretary of the Department of Finance to increase the P70,000 ceiling after a reviewing the effect of inflation rate on the amount at the end of the taxable year.

The bill awaits deliberation and approval by the Senate, then enactment into law upon signing by the President.

Click here for a copy of the engrossed bill.

House Bills, In The News »

[ 4 Jun 2014 | No Comment ]

The true abandonment

The Philippine Daily Inquirer 4 June 2014 Editorial

(Read full editorial here: http://opinion.inquirer.net/75280/the-true-abandonment)

‘It seemed that in the DepEd’s view, taking to the streets to call for an increase in pay was tantamount to neglecting the millions of schoolchildren nationwide.  “Let us draw the line at abandoning our children,” it intoned.  “As educators and civil servants, let us always keep the interests of our learners in mind.”

‘That is an unfortunate, if not insulting, statement.  Teachers, especially the public-school variety, are among the most patient, docile people around.  They toil in the most parsimonious conditions, their classrooms, school supplies and general campus facilities the perennial poor relations of vastly better-funded private schools.  They are obliged to manage classes whose volumes are beyond the viable norm, yet they soldier on.  During elections they do double-duty as vote-counters—a perilous task that puts them in the crosshairs of violent competition among political factions—and even have to wait to be compensated for it.

‘And, since 2009, their entry-level pay has been pegged at P18,549—lower even than what fresh graduates initially get in the call-center industry.  That last salary adjustment five years ago raised the teachers’ pay by P6,523, but here’s the cruel catch: It wasn’t given in one go, but in four tranches over four years, from 2009 to 2012.  The adjustment mandated by law as due the public school teachers took years to implement, and the paltry sum still had to be broken down into nearly negligible installments.

‘Which other profession is subjected to indignities like this?  Perhaps other government employees endure the same excruciatingly slow improvements in work benefits, but as opposed to, say, clerks in a mayor’s office, teachers surely deserve greater attention because of the unique work they do:  Their wellbeing translates directly to the wellbeing of the children under their care.  They can’t teach kids properly without proper training on their own, or adequate school facilities, or enough remuneration to sustain them in mind and body.  Certainly they can’t be expected to be motivated to do their jobs well, never mind excel, if their pay remains shockingly low.

How much wage increase are the teachers seeking this time? From P18,549 to P25,000.  Is that too high a figure for such a consequential job as teaching the hope of the motherland? The 1991 Congressional Commission on Education pegged the minimum monthly salary that teachers should be receiving at even a higher figure—P28,000.

‘Malacañang’s response to the teachers’ petition for a pay increase is quite hard to take.  “There was no fund identified as source of the salary hike they are waiting for,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.  The same administration that coughed up billions of pesos under a curious mechanism called the Disbursement Acceleration Program now pleads penury when it comes to sparing a few million pesos for the welfare of some 550,000 hard-up public school teachers across the country.’

 

May pera sa pork at korupsyon, pero wala sa edukasyon!

Increase salaries of public school teachers and non-teaching personnel!  P25,000 minimum monthly salary for teachers, P15,000 for non-teaching personnel!

ENACT HOUSE BILL 245 NOW!

Activities, Headline, House Bills »

[ 7 May 2014 | No Comment ]

SPONSORSHIP SPEECH

House Bill 3587, “An Act Prohibiting the Establishment of Political Dynasties”[1]

7 May 2014

 

Twenty seven years ago, the Filipino people made it the nation’s policy the mandate for the State to “guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”[2]

To this day, nearly three decades later, Congress and successive Presidents have failed to prohibit the oligarchic rule of elite families as mandated by the Constitution.

This failure allowed the entrenchment, according to a 2007 study of the Center for People Empowerment and Governance, of around 250 dominant families in Philippine politics at the national and local level, with these families monopolizing political power for the past 30 years and more.  This domination is reserved to less than 1%[3] of the country’s 15 million families.

This failure, according to political and economic research center IBON, resulted in the reign of elite political clans in the House of Representatives and the Senate, with legislators from prominent families occupying 87% and 85% of the seats, respectively.  This failure resulted in 94% of the provinces, or 73 out of total 80, being ruled by select families, with an average of 2.31 political families per province.

These facts and figures have earned for the Philippines the distinction of being “the political dynasty capital of the world.”

International media and human rights monitors confirmed that conflicts among political dynasties beget political violence which has earned our elections the notoriety of being one of the bloodiest and dirtiest in the world.  Our country has the shame of being the site of the Ampatuan massacre, one of the most gruesome election-related massacres in the world.

Local and international findings also point to political dynasties as one of the major factors behind the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor.  In April this year, the Bertelsmann Foundation recommended that “the dominance of entrenched family clans in politics and the economy should be reduced to make politics and economics more transparent and competitive.”  Government’s own National Statistical Coordination Board presented last October a study by economists finding that poverty is linked to the “prevalence of political dynasties.”

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, in its book The Rulemakers: How the Wealthy and Well-born Dominate the Congress, stressed that with elite dominance, “those who make the laws for the country are therefore hardly representative of its citizens…[L]awmakers have employed their powers to further enrich themselves and entrench their families in power.”  Dynasties of landed elites, for instance, leave little hope for genuine agrarian reform.

Congress has failed to act on its constitutional mandate for 27 years.  The House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms of this 16th Congress took the first step to break that inaction by unanimously voting to approve House Bill 3587, or the “Anti-Political Dynasty Bill.”  This historic vote in November last year, at least 12 years after the first anti-dynasty bill was filed, says that there is hope that the right of the ordinary Filipino to equal access to public service will be finally fleshed out into law.

It is also a testament to the desire for good governance and greater transparency which the public has intensely demonstrated and continues to demonstrate through street protests, the formation of sectoral alliances, efforts towards a people’s initiative, and other collective actions in the sustained and growing campaign against political dynasties.  The entrenchment of dynasties in the political branches of government is a great obstacle to the enactment of an anti-political dynasty law, but the Filipino people’s resolve is greater.

House Bill 3587 defines political dynasty as the concentration, consolidation, or perpetuation of public office and political power by persons related to one another.  A political dynasty exists when two or more individuals related within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity hold or run for national or local office in successive, simultaneous, or overlapping terms (Section 3 (a)).  The prohibited political dynasty relationship applies to that between legal or common law spouses (Section 3 (b)), as well as legitimate or illegitimate and full or half blood relations (Section 5).  Where this prohibition exists, one shall not be allowed to hold or run for any local or national elective office in the same election (Section 5, last sentence).

The prohibition extends to candidates who have the prohibited relationship to an incumbent elective official seeking re-election, and to fellow candidates who have the prohibited relationship to each other, in which case, the Commission on Elections shall decide who shall be allowed to hold or run for office through a raffle or drawing of lots. (Section 5, second paragraph)

Immediate succession of one having the prohibited relationship to an incumbent official shall also be prohibited.  Punong barangays or members of the sangguniang barangay are not covered by the prohibition.  (Section 5, third paragraph)

The constitutional prohibition is given more teeth with the requirement of the filing by a candidate of a sworn statement with the Commission on Elections that he or she does not have a political dynasty relationship with an incumbent elective official running for any elective public office (Section 6).  Violation of the prohibition will be ground for denial of due course to the candidate’scertificate of candidacy, non-counting of votes cast for the candidate, and non-proclamation. (Section 8)

Mr. Speaker, bilang pangwakas sa sponsorship na ito, nais ko lang balikan nating muli kung bakit at papaano tayo nakaabot sa makasaysayang puntong ito.  Katulad ng nabanggit na ng mga naunang sponsor, matapos ang 27 taon mula nang unang itakda ng Konstitusyon ng 1987 na pinagbabawal ang mga political dynasty, sa unang pagkakataon, mayroong anti-political dynasty bill na nai-sponsor sa plenaryong ito ng ika-16 na Kongreso.

Bakit tayo nakaabot dito?  Walang ibang dahilan, Mr. Speaker, kundi ang reyalidad ng pagkamulat ng mamamayan.  Nagising na po ang mamamayang Pilipino.  May sapat na bilang na po ng mga namulat na mamamayan na handa nang ipaglaban ang pagbabawal sa patuloy na paghahari ng iilang pamilya sa lahat ng antas ng gubyerno.

At ang pwersa pong ito ay hindi natin mapipigilan, hindi natin matatawaran.  Nakita na po natin ang bisa at kapangyarihan ng mulat na mamamayan.  Dahil po rito, nabasura ang Priority Development Assistance Fund o PDAF.  Dahil po rito, sa mulat na mamamayan, napigil po sa ilang pagkakataon ang pagsusulong ng charter change sa ilalim ng mga nakaraang administrasyon—at sa aking paniniwala ay pipigil pa rin pagsusulong ng charter change sa ilalim ng kasalukuyang administrasyon.  Dahil po sa mulat at kumikilos na mamamayan, napatalsik ang mga base militar ng Estados Unidos.  Kaya buo po ang aking paniniwala na dahil sa suporta at pagbabantay ng mulat na mamamayan ay maipapasa rin ang anti-political dynasty bill na nakasalang ngayon.

Panahon na.  Oras na.  Ipasa na po natin ang anti-dynasty bill.

Maraming salamat po, Mr. Speaker.

 


[1] One of the principal authors of HB 172 (the first anti-political dynasty bill filed in the 16th Congress), Rep. Tinio also chaired the Technical Working Group which finalized HB 3587 at the committee level.

[2] Section 26, Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution

[3]  0.00001667%

 

To watch Rep. Tinio’s sponsorship of the anti-political dynasty bill, please click here.

Headline, House Bills »

[ 11 Mar 2014 | No Comment ]

House Bill 444, along with other bills for voluntary election service of teachers, is approved by the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms.  Rep. Tinio headed the meetings of the Technical Working Group which finalized the consolidated bill.

Next: Deliberation of the consolidated bill and its approval on second then third readings.