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[ 29 Jan 2015 | No Comment ]

PRESS RELEASE

29 January 2015

Reference: ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (09209220817)

Solon warns Aquino not to veto bill on tax-free bonuses

The principal author in the Lower House of a bill Congress approved last year seeking to raise the tax exemption cap for 13th month pay and other bonuses warns President Aquino not to veto it, or he will face the anger of around 43 million workers in the private and public sector.

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio revealed that upon his inquiries, the bill that would increase tax-exempt bonuses to P82,000, or nearly three times from the current P30,000, has been pending as early as January 14 with the Office of the President, who referred it to its legal department “for further study.”

The Department of Finance (DOF) is reportedly urging the President to veto the measure, and proposes instead a lower tax exemption ceiling of P55,000 through an administrative order.

“All working people want some relief from unconscionably high personal income taxes. They are eagerly awaiting enactment of this bill into law as soon as possible.  A Presidential veto will deny the majority of Filipinos, who are mostly low- and middle-income earners, the higher take-home pay that they so justly deserve and need,” maintained Tinio.

Tinio noted that the fact that Pres. Aquino is entertaining the thought of vetoing this drastically needed measure, approved unanimously both by the House of Representatives and the Senate, shows that he is really against any measure of economic relief for the people.  “Maa-isolate talaga siya mula sa taumbayan bilang isang pangulong anti-mamamayan kung babaliwalain niya ang bill na ito.”

“A veto would send a strong signal to ordinary working people and their files that the Aquino administration has little regard for their welfare. On the other hand, it has no qualms about using taxpayers’ funds to subsidize the private profits of the big foreign and local corporations through public-private partnerships, tax holidays, and other incentives,” added Tinio.

He noted the widespread resentment among teachers and other government employees at the taxes imposed on their year-end bonus and productivity incentive last December. “Mabubugbog siya sa batikos kung hindi niya isasabatas ito,” warned Tinio.

Tinio noted that a veto on the tax-exemption bill will result in a Teacher I or Administrative Aide (a mid-level earnings of P18,549 monthly and the minimum salary level of P9,000, respectively) not being able to take home the full amount of his or her bonuses because at least one-fourth of these will exceed the P30,000 cap and be added to their taxable pay.  A higher taxable pay will mean higher income taxes and less take-home pay for the employee or worker.

Tinio also questioned the DOF proposal to raise the tax ceiling to P55,000 through an administrative order in lieu of the enactment of the measure.

The new ceiling set by the bill was based on computations on the value of P30,000 today.

“Based on the movement of the CPI [Consumer Price Index] with 2006 as the base year, the P30,000 ceiling first set in 1994 should now be P82,000,” said Tinio. “The DOF proposal falls far short and will continue to unjustly burden workers.”

The legislator also cited a study by the UP School of Economics, which said that “Revenue foregone as a result of improved equity comes at a small price between ₱4.3 billion and ₱5.6 billion.”

In the event that the President decides to veto the measure, Tinio vowed that he would urge colleagues  to overturn it. “Congress must take a stand and side with working people.” ###

Headline, In The News, News »

[ 17 Sep 2014 | No Comment ]

PRESS RELEASE

16 September 2014
Reference: ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio (09209220817)
 
On the first day of plenary deliberations of the 2015 national budget, a progressive lawmaker revealed that unconstitutional pork for legislators is even heftier under the 2015 budget, a total allocation of P27.39 billion and P94.44 million for each solon.  The total hidden pork increased by nearly 32% from the P20.76 billion in the 2014 budget while each solon’s share shot up from P71.6 million.
ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio noted that the following assistance programs of the “hidden pork agencies” infused with funds realigned from the item formerly known as Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) are still funded under the proposed budget:

AGENCY

PROGRAM

2014 GAA

(in ‘000)

2015 proposed budget (in ‘000)

DOH

Assistance to Indigent Patients

P 3,193,950

P 1,762,349

DOLE

Government Internship Program (GIP) and Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers “TUPAD” Project

1,022,000

611,730

TESDA

Special Training for Employment Program

1,022,000

543,350

DSWD

Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services

4,090,000

3,642,405

CHED and SUCs

Tulong Dunong Program

4,124,200

2,459,287

DPWH

Local Infrastructure Program

7,309,494

18,369,350

 

TOTAL

P 20,761,644

P 27,388,471

Tinio also noted that the amounts of hidden pork per agency decreased by up to 46.83% except DPWH’s, which more than doubled (up by 105.31%).  Each solon’s share in infrastructure projects went up from P25.2 million in the current year to P94.44 million.
The lump sums per solon in all agencies decreased by up to P47%, except in the case of DPWH, which more than doubled from P25.2 million in 2014 to P94.44 million in 2015.  This set-up now makes hard projects have a 2/3 share in a solon’s the total hidden pork.  The old PDAF system allocated P40 million for hard projects out of the P70 million allocation per solon.

LUMP SUM PER SOLON

2014 GAA

2015 GAB

DOH

P 10.5 M

P 6.08 M

DOLE

3.5 M

2.11 M

TESDA

3.5 M

1.87 M

DSWD

14.0 M

12.56 M

CHED & SUCs

14.0 M

8.48 M

DPWH

25.2 M

63.34 M

P 71.6 M

P 94.443 M

The heads of these hidden pork agencies have earlier admitted that they still invite and admit referrals or recommendations of solons as to who will be the beneficiaries of these programs, a practice already declared illegal by the Supreme Court late 2013.  Most notable are the admissions of CHED Chair Patricia Licuanan aired at a closed-door hearing of the House Committee on Appropriations, of DOH Undersecetary Janette Garin at a meeting with solons, and of DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman during their recent budget briefing.
“It is clear that Aquino’s announcement that he has abolished the PDAF is nothing more than posturing,” said ACT Teachers Antonio L. Tinio.  “Not only did he continue PDAF in 2014 despite the Supreme Court ruling banning it–he will bestow pork to legislators in the next year.  Still in secret but with even larger servings.”
Tinio proposed to further itemize lump sums in the budgets of the hidden pork agencies.
“And to make a clear the message that this government is serious in complying with the law and the people’s demand against all forms of pork and political patronage, Congress and Malacanang should enact a budget law explicitly prohibiting formal and informal practices of post-enactment intervention.”
Tinio ended that they will continue to oppose the perpetuation of illegal hidden congressional pork and move for the deletion of these provisions allowing solons to have personal lump sums that preserve the politicization of the delivery of social services.  ###

Headline, In The News, News »

[ 9 Sep 2014 | No Comment ]

PRESS RELEASE

8 September 2014

Reference: ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio (09209220817)

 

Citing the reality that low pay takes lives, ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio and representatives of education workers demanded for immediate substantial salary increases for public sector employees.  This call coincided with the briefing for DepEd’s proposed 2015 budget Monday afternoon and the Grand Lobbying for Salary Increase of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, the second lobby effort this year at the Lower House for the immediate passage of pending bills for pay hikes for education workers and other government employees.

 

“It is not only loan sharks like PO3 Domino Alipio who kill and maim public school teachers and other state workers,” said Tinio, referring to a policeman who went on a shooting rampage in Pangasinan National High School after failing to collect payments for usurious loans from its teachers.  “By refusing to enact salary increases despite the continuing rise of the cost of living, the government itself is the very cause of the suffering of its employees.”

 

Tinio stressed that the 2015 budget is the right opportunity to make immediate pay hikes possible, and that the recent junking of four impeachment complaints against him proves that he could push Congress, which is led by his party and coalition allies, to do anything if he wants to or if it would be to his benefit.

 

“This time, we dare him to push Congress to do what is to the benefit of the people—to amend the 2015 budget bill with a provision for salary increases.”

 

Tinio has previously slammed Malacanang for its refusal to back proposed legislated salary increases despite a legal mandate to enact pay increases in the annual budget and resounding support from solons both in the Lower House and the Senate.  To date, Tinio’s House Bill 245 or the proposed hike to P25,000 and P15,000 of the salaries of teachers and non-teaching employees, respectively, has garnered the support of 121 of his colleagues in the House of Representatives.

 

He also noted that the Aquino government should take the Pangasinan shooting as a wake-up call to ease its employees’ economic woes.  “Hindi na dapat niyang hintayin na may mapaslang o masaktan muli sa hanay ng mga guro at kawaning lubog sa utang dahil hindi na makaagapay ang kanilang sweldo sa para sa araw-araw nilang gastusin.  At lalong hindi na dapat hintayin ang election year bago niya bigyan ng hustisya ang mga biktima ng Pangasinan shooting at iba pang biktimang kawani sa buong bansa na nagtitiis sa kakarampot na sahod.”  ###

Activities, News »

[ 25 Aug 2014 | No Comment ]

PRESS RELEASE

25 August 2014

Reference: ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (09209220817)

 

Tinio reveals list of government personnel assigned for solons’ illegal pork

 

LUNETA, MANILA—ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio has released a list of government employees in three national agencies assigned to facilitate the funding requests of members of the House of Representatives for scholarships, medical assistance, and emergency employment.

According to Tinio, the list of so-called “focal persons,” consisting of names and contact numbers of government employees of the Commission on Higher Education, Department of Health, and Department of Labor and Employment, was distributed to House members on April 22, 2014.  “It’s another proof that President Aquino is secretly and illegally distributing pork to legislators despite the Supreme Court ruling declaring pork as unconstitutional.”

Some P20.7 billion of the funds formerly known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the 2014 General Appropriations Act were realigned to six national government agencies. Of these, CHED got P4.1 billion for its scholarship program, DOH got P3 billion for medical assistance to indigent patients, and DOLE got P1 billion for its emergency employment programs (known as TUPAD and GIP).  The Department of Social Welfare got P4 billion for its Crisis Intervention Program while TESDA got P1 billion for its skills training program. The Department of Public Works and Highways got P7.3 billion for various local infrastructure projects. Officially, these agencies maintain that legislators have no say in the use of these funds.

However, Tinio alleges that the Aquino administration secretly allows these funds to be used as personal discretionary funds of members of the House of Representatives, a practice declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  “Specifically, the funds in CHED, DOH, DOLE, TESDA, and DSWD are further subdivided into individual lump sums for House members, with P14 million each from CHED, P10.5 million from DOH, P3.5 million from DOLE and from TESDA, and P14 million from DSWD.  These personal lump sums are to be disbursed at the discretion of each House member, who alone decides to whom and how much of the funds will go.”

“Having been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, allowing members of Congress to access pork is not officially acknowledged.  There are no written policies, guidelines, memoranda, or orders admitting that it goes on.  Hence, Cabinet officials have had to hold face-to-face meetings with House members to explain that they can access their personal discretionary lump sums through so-called focal persons.  These are government employees in their respective agencies who are tasked with facilitating the funding requests of congressmen and congresswomen,” explained Tinio.  “Fortunately, we have been able to document some of these meetings and the unofficial documents that these agencies have given out to House members.”

According to the list released by Tinio, CHED’s focal persons include Director for Student Development and Services Isabel Inlayo, three of her staff, and its 16 regional directors.  Also assigned as contact persons are DOLE’s regional directors (for district representatives) and Nenita Garcia, the Director of Financial Management Service (for party-list representatives).  As for DOH, hospital staff are assigned to accommodate solons’ referred beneficiaries for each of the 136 DOH-retained and specialty hospitals covered by the MAP.  Added Tinio: “These hospital personnel report to DOH Undersecretary Janette Garin, who is in charge of the medical assistance pork, officially known as the Medical Health Care Assistance Program (MCAP), and later renamed as the Medical Assistance Program (MAP).” (Please see attached list.)

Tinio denounced President Aquino for forcing these civil servants to take part in unconstitutional and illegal acts.  “For the sake of maintaining the system of political patronage, Aquino is suborning these employees to commit acts already declared illegal by the Supreme Court.”

The list is one of the pieces of evidence attached to the fourth impeachment complaint which Tinio filed against Aquino on August 11 along with 15 other complainants including National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera and leaders of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers.  The House leadership refused to refer it to the Justice Committee along with three other valid complaints on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

Also included as evidence is the audio recording of a closed-door meeting held by the House Committee on Appropriations where CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan said “I know it [referral of scholars by solons] was supposed to be illegal, dapat wala na but actually meron pa” and “I am also dealing and accepting the political reality that this is PDAF.”  Another recording is of a meeting between Undersecretary Garin and several House members and their staff where the former assured the latter that “the decision of the Department is to do away with all walk-in patients because in the first place it was made clear to us that these funds are not DOH funds but are actually funds of Congressmen who are there to assist their constituents.”

“It is obvious that both the President and Congress cannot be trusted to respect and obey the law against pork barrel,” said Tinio.  “The Supreme Court already declared as illegal pork the PDAF and any scheme like it where the President dangles funds as a carrot and stick to control Congress. President Aquino is lying to the people and committing illegal acts.”

“It is now up to the people to themselves enact a law that will criminalize the inclusion and approval of discretionary lump sum funds like PDAF and DAP in the national budget.  This is the very reason why thousands of Filipinos today converge here at Luneta—to sign up for the genuine abolition of the pork barrel system.  We want to put an end to a system that allows public funds to be used as though they were the personal funds of public officials.”

One year after it hosted the historic Million People’s March, Luneta will again serve as an anti-pork site, this time for Stand Up, Sign Up!, an activity held by the People’s Initiative Against Pork (PIAP) to gather signatures for the proposed law entitled “An Act Abolishing the Pork Barrel System.”  If enacted, the people’s initiative bill will criminalize the proposal and approval in any budget law of any form of pork barrel funds.  ###