Duterte not interested in term extension – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   September 28, 2020   •   386

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday reiterated that President Rodrigo Duterte is not interested in extending his term of office amid talks on the proposed postponement of the May 2022 national elections.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the president will leave it to the Filipino people to decide on whether to delay the next polls that will pick his successor.

“The president is not interested in extending his term. And he leaves it to the Filipino people, the sovereign people, to decide if they want to amend the Constitution to postpone the elections,” Roque said during a televised press briefing.

Duterte’s term will end on June 30, 2022.

Roque said the postponement of the 2022 elections is only possible through the amendment of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

House Deputy Majority Leader Mikey Arroyo earlier raised the proposal for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to consider postponing the May 2022 elections due to the continuing threat of the coronavirus disease.

The Palace said the country still has time to prepare for the next elections and that it could learn from the examples of other countries that conducted elections even during the pandemic.

The Constitution mandates the conduct of the presidential and vice presidential, senators and House representatives’ elections every second Monday of May every six years.

Comelec earlier said the matter of postponing the polls is not a call of the poll body, but rather, up to the president and the Congress.

Malacañang also said it will let the Commission on Elections decide on the system it will use to conduct the next elections, including the political campaign period, following proposals to use mail-in and postal voting to ensure the health and safety of voters.

“The decision lies with the Comelec at hindi po natin pinangungunahan ang Comelec pero as I said, baka po kailangan po ang pamamaraan ng pag-conduct ng election,” Roque said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Gatchalian pushes for tax exemption of teachers’ poll honoraria anew ahead of 2022 polls

Robie de Guzman   •   April 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday renewed his push for tax exemption on the honoraria, travel allowance, and other benefits granted to poll workers in the upcoming May 2022 elections.

Gatchalian said his proposal is contained in Senate Bill 1193 which he filed in 2019.

The bill seeks to further amend Section 32 of Republic Act No. 8424 or the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as amended, so that poll workers can receive the full amount of their honoraria, travel allowance, and other benefits.

The measure also seeks to exclude poll workers’ honoraria and allowances from gross income. A five percent tax is currently imposed on poll workers’ election honoraria.

“Maliban sa pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon sa gitna ng pandemya, ang ating mga guro, opisyal, at kawani ng mga pampublikong paaralan ay nagsisilbing frontliners upang matiyak ang maayos at malinis na halalan,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

“Hindi biro ang trabaho nila mula sa preparasyon hanggang sa bilangan ng mga balota. Kaya maituturing natin itong isang paraan ng pasasalamat para sa kanilang dedikasyon at sakripisyo,” he added.

Under the Election Service Reform Act (Republic Act No. 10756), the chairpersons of electoral boards are each entitled to receive P6,000.

Members of electoral boards receive P5,000 each, Department of Education Supervisor Officials (DESO) receive P4,000 each, while support staff receives P2,000 each.

Gatchalian pointed out that poll workers’ honoraria and allowances are subject to income tax if their annual taxable income exceeds the P250,000 threshold under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law. Those earning below P250,000 have to submit a declaration of tax exemptions.

In the explanatory note of his bill, the senator stressed that giving poll workers, especially public school teachers, the full amount of their election allowances is “the best way we can show them our gratitude and appreciation for ensuring clean, honest, and orderly elections in the country.”

This will also encourage and reward volunteerism in the country’s election process, he added.

E-filing of petitions, political party registration to continue amid ECQ in NCR Plus – Comelec

Robie de Guzman   •   March 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) announced it will continue to accept online filing of petitions for registration of party-list organizations and political parties despite the re-imposition of enhanced community quarantine in the National Capital Region (NCR) and neighboring provinces.

Under Resolution 10673, COMELEC said it will continue receiving, via e-mail, petitions, verified pleadings, memoranda, comments, briefs, and other submissions in PDF format.

“With the rapidly approaching March 31, 2021 deadline for the filing of petitions for registration of party-list organizations and the submission of manifestations of intent to participate, we expect a massive influx of petitions in the coming week,” COMELEC spokesman James Jimenez said in a statement on Sunday

He also said that e-mails sent to the address clerkofthecommission@comelec.gov.ph and received by the 5 p.m. deadline will be considered filed on time.”

“The payment of docket fees and other legal fees for the petition for registration of party-list organizations also need to be done on or before March 31, 2021,” Jimenez emphasized.

After filing through e-mail, the poll body said that the filing party shall send, through the fastest means available, hard copies of all petitions, pleadings, and other submissions, with complete annexes in four hard copies.

Proof of payment of the required fees, deposits, and fines, if any, should also be submitted.

The NCR and four nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal have been placed under ECQ from March 29 to April 4 to curb the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

Pacquiao urges PDP-Laban members to set aside politics for now, focus on solving problems

Robie de Guzman   •   March 12, 2021

Senator Manny Pacquiao

 

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Manny Pacquiao, who serves as acting national president of political party PDP-Laban, called on his party-mates to focus more on solving the country’s problems and not politics.

Pacquiao made the call on Friday in response to reports that some PDP-Laban members are urging President Rodrigo Duterte to run as vice president in 2022.

The senator said the move is not sanctioned by the party’s leadership and he stressed that the focus of the party now is to help the public deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“As party president, I have the responsibility to enforce the rules, promote cooperation, insist on civility and respect, and most of all, to remind you that we are one team, because it is only when we are united that we can stand strong to weather any storm and to face the greatest dangers,” Pacquiao said in a statement.

On Thursday, House deputy speaker Eric Martinez revealed that some members of PDP-Laban are circulating a resolution urging  the president to run for vice president in the 2022 elections for continuity’s sake.

But Pacquiao said now is not the time for politics and that party members should prioritize the needs and lives of Filipinos amid the public health crisis.

“God destined us to be leaders to our respective constituents, and by showing them by example that we know our priorities we are sending a strong message that we value them, that we are aware of their needs and we give them hope,” he said.

“I, therefore, call upon all our party members to focus more on the opportunity to serve. Our countrymen need us now more than ever. There will be a time for politics, but for now, the lives and wellbeing of our countrymen should be our utmost priority,” he added.

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