Senatorial bets asked: Do you support adjusting tax rates?

Katerina Francisco
Senatorial bets asked: Do you support adjusting tax rates?
At the 2nd Rappler senatorial debate, 6 senatorial candidates explain how to reconcile adjusting tax rates with ensuring the delivery of quality social services

MANILA, Philippines – What do senatorial bets have to say about proposals to adjust tax rates?

Six senatorial candidates explained how to reconcile adjusting tax rates with ensuring the delivery of quality social services during the Rappler senatorial debate at the University of the Philippines on Friday, April 15.

The discussion on taxes has been an electoral issue among presidential candidates, with at least two of them promising outright exemptions to low-income earners, while others propose reviewing the 19-year-old taxation system.

Economist Walden Bello said he is in favor of reducing tax rates for the poor while making sure that those who have the capacity to pay contribute their fair share. He also said that debt service payments need to be brought down.

“We’re putting one-third of our national budget to repay foreign debt. We have to bring down debt service payments and it’s about time we do that,” he said.

He earlier said that the government has misallocated its funds to pay foreign and domestic debts instead of funneling the money into the delivery of social services.

For her part, Liberal Party (LP) senatorial bet Leila de Lima said there is a need for a comprehensive tax transformation law.

She also echoed the party line on proposals to lower income or corporate tax; the LP standard bearer, Manuel Roxas II, earlier said he was open to reviewing the tax system but raised concerns on what social services could be affected.

“Laudable and well-meaning ang mga ganyang panukala (Those proposals are laudable and well-meaning). We should be slow about this. We should think about the overall impact on the economy,” she said.

Former Akbayan representative Risa Hontiveros, who is running under the administration coalition, said she supports a socialized and progressive taxation system which would ease the tax burden on low-income families and minimum wage earners.

She also called on the need to maximize the use of revenues from sin taxes to fund social services.

Meanwhile, Valenzuela Representative Sherwin Gatchalian pointed to the need to address smuggling, which he said was costing the country P80 billion in lost revenues.

Former senator Richard Gordon, for his part, stressed the importance of providing jobs, saying that if there are more employment opportunities, the government will have more revenue sources through taxes.

Kapag maraming trabaho, puwede babaan ang taxes (If there are a lot of jobs, taxes can we lowered),” he added.

For former Armed Forces chief of staff Dionisio Santiago, the next leader should have political will to implement these reforms. –

Background photo and BIR form via Shutterstock

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