Proposed suspension of fuel excise tax filed in Lower House

Maris Federez   •   October 29, 2021   •   266

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)

House on lockdown due to Omicron threat

Maris Federez   •   January 4, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives (HOR) is now under lockdown amid the threat of coronavirus disease Omicron variant.

HOR Secretary-General Mark Mendoza said the move is to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure the safety of all employees.

Mendoza said the House will resume operation next week.

The Senate, on the other hand, said it will not implement a lockdown, but instead, will just suspend all scheduled hearings on Wednesday, January 5.

According to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, there is no need, so far, for placing the Upper House under lockdown.

Sotto added that they have been implementing a limited number of onsite personnel since the long holiday, and that, so far, no employee was reported to have tested positive for COVID-19.

Both Houses of Congress are still on session break and are due to resume sessions on January 17. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Solons call on government to fast track response vs Omicron

Maris Federez   •   January 3, 2022


MANILA, Philippines — Two members of the House of Representatives have called on the national government to fast track measures to combat the COVID-19 Omicron variant and prevent the rapid spread of the virulent viral disease.

House Committee on Ways and Means chairperson and Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda said that the government must see to it that isolation areas are ready and prepared for the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in hospitals and other health care facilities.

Salceda said treatment facilities and unused isolation centers must be reactivated in preparation for the Omicron variant so that isolating COVID-19 patients will be swift.

“So, if we can isolate the infected and treat them quickly, we should do alright. Of course, that will require some flexibility in treatment capacity again. So, we need to reactivate disused or unused isolation centers in preparation for Omicron,” he said.

The lawmaker said he plans to meet with testing czar Vince Dizon and discuss with the official the capacity of the country’s isolation facilities.

Salceda also called on the Department of Health to expedite the procurement of COVID-19 therapeutics.

He further said that the Lower House is prepared for any amendment in the budget so that the government can purchase needed ventilators and other equipment and medicines in case surges in hospital admission take place.

Meanwhile, BHW Partylist Representative Angelica Natasha Co has called on the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to immediately release to local government units their share of the approved Php5.024 trillion 2022 national budget.

Co said the budget will be used by the LGUs in distributing free COVID-19 kits to every family in Metro Manila.

“Ang pondong ido-download sa mga LGUs ang gagamitin upang mabilis silang makapagpamahagi ng libreng COVID-19 kits sa bawat household sa buong Metro Manila. Ilan sa dapat maging laman ng COVID-19 kits ang alcohol, sabong panlaba, sabong panligo, mouthwash, at medical grade face mask,” Co said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Congress ratifies Php5.024-T 2022 national budget

Maris Federez   •   December 15, 2021


MANILA, Philippines — The Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives on Wednesday (December 15) approved the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed ₱5.024-trillion national budget for 2022.

With its ratification by both houses of Congress, the bill will then be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing into law.

Congress will go on session break effective Thursday as lawmakers go on break for the holidays.

A significant portion of the 2022 national budget, the Philippine government’s highest national expenditure plan in history — is allocated to the COVID-19 response and all other programs for economic recovery amid the pandemic.

Senate Committee on Finance chairperson Senator Sonny Angara has earlier said that the approved Bicameral Conference Committee report has adjusted the budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Lawmakers restored the NTF ELCAC’s budget to the 16 or 16.5 billion-peso level.

Around 20 to 30 billion pesos were also added to the budget of the DOH.

“Tapos sa DOLE naglagay rin tayo ng testing for yung  naghahanap ng trabaho. Nakatutok na rin tayo sa economic recovery natin,” Angara said.

The Bicam report also included in the budget funding for COVID-19 vaccines estimated at 45 to 50 billion pesos as part of the government’s efforts in fighting the deadly disease as the country is gradually opening its economy. —/mbmf


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