Access to lawmakers’ SALN will soon require House approval

Marje Pelayo   •   February 1, 2019   •   2625

Session Hall of the House of Representatives Complex in Constitution Hills, Quezon City

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The House of Representatives (HOR) adopted on Thursday (January 31) on second reading a resolution which provides stricter rules on releasing the lawmakers’ statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

House Resolution No. 2467 seeks to require plenary approval or approval of the majority of members of the Lower House before any of the SALN can be released.

Such a rule is first in the history of Philippine legislation.

Currently, the HOR publishes a ‘summary report’ of its members’ SALN on its official website which the public may freely access.

The proposal seeks to protect the safety and security of the lawmakers and their families since SALNs reflect pertinent information about the individual.

Oppositions to the measure expressed doubts on its intention noting that the timing of the discussions may have something to do with the upcoming elections and controversial pork barrel or budget insertions.

“If we have nothing to hide, why make public access to and disclosure of SALNs, which are public documents, extremely difficult to the extent of discouraging and deterring applicants from securing copies of said SALNs?” argued Bayan Muna Representative Edcel Lagman.

Meanwhile, Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin urged the public to challenge the constitutionality of the proposal.

“I think this should be challenged in court by any taxpayer and stricken down as unconstitutional being class legislation,” said Villarin.

Any public official and employee is required by law to submit a SALN under R.A. 6713 or the Act Establishing a Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

“Any statement filed under this Act shall be available to the public for a period of ten (10) years after receipt of the statement. After such period, the statement may be destroyed unless needed in an ongoing investigation.,” Section 8 of the law read.

The SALN provides information of assets, liabilities and overall net worth of a public employee along with those of his or her family.

Such a document also traces the record of an official if he or she is involved in corruption. The information therein can provide enough grounds for impeachment from public office.

In the case of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, he was impeached from the Supreme Court for not declaring as assets his bank deposits and other investments on his SALN. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Grace Casin)

House aims to pass bill on oil excise tax reduction before session break

Maris Federez   •   November 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Before the session breaks in December, the leadership in the House of Representatives is determined to approve the proposed legislation that seeks to reduce excise taxes imposed on petroleum products.

House Deputy Majority Leader Representative Jesus ‘Bong’ Suntay said they also expect the Senate to do the same.

“I’m sure mapapasa namin yan before December on the part of the House. Pero ang mga kasamahan natin, mga senador natin, want to give it as a Christmas gift to Filipinos who have been hit hard by the pandemic,” Suntay said.

In the House version of the consolidated bill, the solons are pushing for a zero excise tax to be imposed on gasoline, diesel, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for six months.

Excise tax on low octane gasoline used in tricycles, on the other hand, will be reduced to Php 4.35 per liter.

Suntay said the House leadership is determined to approve this the soonest time possible, noting that it is not only the transport sector who is being affected by the high price of petroleum products but the general public as well.

“Hindi naman yung transport sector who carries the burden of this additional excise tax. Lahat ng tao hindi lang public utility vehicle driver o jeepney drivers ang tinamaan, kundi lahat ng tao tinamaan ng pandemya. I believe kailangang naman na ibalik natin, di ba?” Suntay explained.

He further clarified that the Lower House is not seeking for the suspension of the excise tax under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law but to just cut a small percentage of the tax imposed by the said law. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Proposed suspension of fuel excise tax filed in Lower House

Maris Federez   •   October 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A bill proposing the suspension of the imposition of excise tax on petroleum products has been filed before the House of Representatives (HOR), Deputy Speaker Cagayan De Oro City Representative Rufus Rodriguez announced Friday (October 29).

The move is brought about by the continuous increases in the price of fuel products.

House Bill 10246 filed by Deputy Speaker Rodriguez sought to amend Section 43 of the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

It will particularly order the suspension of the collection of adjustments in excise taxes that will be applied on gasoline, diesel, and other petroleum products from 2022 to 2025.

Rodriguez clarified that his proposed bill is not a move to scrap the imposition of excise taxes as a whole.

The lawmaker said that the weekly increases in the price of fuel will only burden the economy that is just beginning to slowly open to welcome employees to go back to work.

On Thursday’s briefing by the Department of Finance before the House Committee on Energy, the agency said the country will lose around Php131.4 billion should the suspension of excise tax will be approved.

Conversely, the Department of Energy has called on Congress to approve the said suspension. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Makabayan Bloc seeks probe into proliferation of smuggled vegetables in local markets

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – The House Makabayan bloc is pushing for an investigation into the alleged proliferation of smuggled vegetables in some markets across the country.

In filing House Resolution No. 2263, the bloc urged the House Committee on Agriculture and Food to launch an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on reports that smuggled carrots and other vegetables from overseas have flooded major markets in the country since August of this year.

The bloc noted that the League of Association at the La Trinidad Trading Areas has complained that four container vans full of alleged smuggled carrots are delivered to the Carbon Market in Cebu City every week and being sold at P50 per kilo in various markets.

“The said contraband carrots are believed to be coming from China and are allegedly injected with chemicals to prolong the shelf life,” the resolution read.

Some ‘hot cabbages’ were also reportedly being distributed in Divisoria Market in Manila at P70 per kilo which is much lower than the prices of Benguet cabbage pegged at P115 to P125 a kilo.

The bloc also noted reports about small warehouses near Divisoria where imported vegetables are allegedly stored and are released in the market when Benguet vegetable prices are high.

“Vegetable disposers at the La Trinidad Post in Benguet said that orders have drastically dropped due to the proliferation of smuggled carrots in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro, among other cities,” it said.

“From the previous 100 sacks of carrots a day, vegetable disposers said they are only able to dispose of at least 30 sacks of carrots a day,” it added.

The Department of Agriculture earlier said it is investigating reports on smuggled vegetables in local markets and warned the public against buying these items that may contain possible pesticide residue and may not be fit for consumption.

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