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RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
Posted at 11/25/15 5:04 PM

MANILA - Minority lawmakers are urging the majority of the House of Representatives to still pass a law reducing income tax rates despite the opposition of President Aquino, saying Congress can muster the two-thirds to override a presidential veto.

1-BAP Rep. Silvestre Bello said Congress can show its sincerity by passing the bill.

Bello also thinks Congress can pass the bill while leaving it to the President for him to veto or not. He said a two-thirds vote of each House voting separately can override a presidential veto. A two-thirds vote is equivalent to about 217 congressmen.

Bello thinks Aquino's opposition is a sign of insensitivity and condescension towards the people.

Bayan Muna Representative and senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares, an author of an income tax reduction bill, said there is still time to pass the bill and Congress should assert its prerogative in passing bills.

Colmenares points out that Aquino has no say in the passage of a bill.
The lawmaker also said the bill can be passed even if it is not certified as urgent by the President.

Colmenares calls on all to wear black ribbons or black shirts on November 27 as part of the Black Friday protest for income tax reduction. He said this is not a mere publicity stunt or "pa-pogi," which is how President Aquino described the bill.

Colmenares points out that one of the authors of the reduction, Senator Sonny Angara, is not running in 2016. Colmenares also joked self deprecatingly, "Ako kahit pa ano gawin sa mukha ko, hindi na ko po-pogi."

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio also lambasted government for citing as a reason not to increase basic salaries.

Tinio thinks government should do both--increase salaries and reduce income taxes.
Tinio also believes the timing of the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) of 2015 was meant to coincide with the elections to maximize whatever political capital it will generate.

However, he also believes that the political capital has been squandered by the small amount of increase.

Colmenares also dares administration standard bearer Mar Roxas to campaign for an income tax reduction.

Colmenares believes that Roxas' actions only show they will follow President Aquino's decision on the matter of income tax.

Previously, Roxas ally YACAP Rep. Carol Lopez said Roxas and Aquino differ on the matter of income tax but he is deferring to Aquino's position now.

Tinio, for his part, thinks there will be a political backlash on Roxas and running-mate Leni Robredo coming from the position of Malacanang against income tax reduction.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said this will become an election issue.

Tinio said Congress still has time to adjust the proposed SSL 2015 to make sure the increase goes to salaries instead of bonuses.

Tinio estimates that more than half of the increase of lower-ranked state workers will go to bonuses instead of their basic salaries.

The SSL 2015 was approved on second reading two weeks ago but due to the absence of a quorum, the House has yet to approve it on third reading which is required for the bill to move in the Senate.

Tinio said government employees feel shortchanged because an increase in bonuses won't affect their Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) premiums as well as their retirement benefits as those are based on basic salaries.

Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap, for his part, wants Congress to also legislate a wage hike. Congress is already working on a salary increase for state workers under the proposed SSL of 2015.

Anakpawis party-list renewed its demand for a P125 hike, nationwide and across the regional wage boards, for minimum wage of workers at the private sector.
This is amid the Aquino administration's push for House Bill No. 6268 or SSL of 2015, which proposes a P40,924 or 341 percent salary increase (from P120,000 to P160,924 monthly) for the president on its first tranche of salary grade (SG) 33.

Anakpawis filed House Bill No. 253 on July 1, 2013 that proposed the increase in minimum wage, while HB 6268 was only filed last November 9.

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