SENATORIAL candidate Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez has vowed to oppose any new tax measures should he win a Senate seat, as this will add burden to the already burdened Filipino people.
At the same time, Romualdez stressed that transparency in government transactions through the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill which empowers the public to scrutinize public funds will sustain government’s financial requirements, including the implementation of his proposed institutionalization of expanded conditional cash transfer program.
Romualdez, head of the House Independent Bloc, said passing new tax measures is not an option to his advocacy as “malasakit” (compassion) to the poorest of the poor, explaining the people should instead rally behind all measures that would address corruption.
“The government needs more resources, but sustaining the increasing expenditures should not burden the poorest of the poor. Instead of passing tax measures, we should strengthen financial transactions through the passage of FoI measure to address tax leakage and all forms of corruption. We have to show malasakit to the people,” Romualdez pointed out.
“To afford the ordinary Juan and his family a decent standard of living, we need tax reform—adjust exemptions and deductions so people have more money to take home and spend for their families. Adjusting tax rates for the earning but still poor or struggling by taking inflation into consideration in the outdated Tax Code. Inflation of currencies and high prices of basic commodities and utility services,” Romualdez stressed.
Romualdez reiterated his call to utilize the P723-billion “unspent” government funds since 2011 to finance his proposal institutionalizing, reforming and expanding the CCT program or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to ensure that this will be made available to those who truly need it and not be used as a political pawn.
Romualdez said only a little portion of the huge funds can be allocated to his measure which seeks to extend a maximum of P46,200 and a minimum of P24,200 financial support annually to each qualified household-beneficiary.
“We have more than seven hundred billion pesos of unspent funds. These monies from taxpayers have not been utilized since 2011, why not use these to help the poor put more food on their tables, give them additional medicines, and increase the education budget of their children?” Romualdez asked.
“I can’t see any logical reasons why the government is not spending the amount when there are many Filipinos who are in desperate situation and badly needing assistance,” Romualdez said.
The Leyte opposition leader also cited the Commission on Audit report that wastage of public funds due to graft and corruption in the Philippines amounts to an average of P100 billion annually.
“The poor will surely benefit more if we will just be able to ensue that public funds are not pocketed by public officials,” Romualdez said, adding that billions of pesos that the Bureaus of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Customs failed to collect yearly will also help enhance the poverty alleviation efforts of the government.
Romualdez also urged anew the Department of Finance to strictly enforce Republic Act 9335 or the Lateral Attrition Law to ensure that government-collecting agencies would consistently meet their target revenues.
Romualdez lamented the seeming government’s failure to implement the Lateral Attrition Act which provides for a system of reward and punishment for officials and employees of the BoC and BIR who meet and fail their target revenues, respectively.
“It’s unfortunate that this good law has not been implemented. I hope the concerned department will enforce this to boost the performance of the Bureaus of Custom and Revenue,” Romualdez said.
Romualdez, a lawyer from the University of the Philippines and president of the Philippine Constitution Association, ran unopposed in the last polls.
Romualdez’s key platforms are focused on improving jobs, health, education, agriculture and disaster preparedness.
Romualdez is a three-term congressman who is running for the Senate under a platform anchored on compassionate governance.
Romualdez is also a shared senatorial candidates of Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and has been endorsed by the 40-man Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc. and the Nationalist People’s Coalition or the country’s second-largest political party.