By Daine Mariel Chua

Despite unfavorable criticisms from teachers, Albay Representative Joey Salceda contended the rationale of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s veto on a measure that sought to implement tax removal for those who served in the 2022 polls, claiming that this protects the existing tax system.

Photo Courtesy of Rappler/CNN Philippines 

The veto of the reconciled Senate Bill No. 2520 and House Bill No. 9652 was announced on Saturday, July 30.

Salceda claimed that the Marcos administration’s intention to not disrupt the tax system as a ground to veto the bill, even though it imposes benefits to election workers such as tax removal, honoraria, and allowances.

This comes following Marcos Jr.’s statement that the implementation of the said bill will be conflicting with other tax programs “to correct the inequity in the country’s tax system and negate the progressivity of the reforms introduced.”

“The president reserves the right to exercise his inherent powers as he sees fit, as long as within the bounds of the law. In this case, he deemed it necessary to veto the tax exemption,” Salceda further justified.

In supporting the claim of disrupting the tax system, the Albay representative figured around P138.6 million revenue loss that the tax exemption could cost annually, which he earlier called “very reasonable, given the job well done.”

Additionally, besides the effect on the country’s revenue, Marcos Jr. also reasoned that the tax breaks were “inequitable to other persons performing similar activities or services.”

As election workers decry the decision, teachers group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) expressed the “no joke” election work as they wake up as early as 3:00 am to ensure the smooth flow through thorough preparation of the precincts.

“President Marcos insulted the movement and calls of the teachers after vetoing the said bill. It’s a negligence of the hard work and sacrifices of teachers who chose to serve in the elections despite the pandemic,” ACT Chairperson Vladimer Queta uttered.

Following the “saddening, disappointing, and demoralizing” rejection of the bill, ACT Party-list Representative France Castro said she is seeking to override the veto.

However, in a radio interview on July 31, House Deputy Speaker Isidro Ungab said that succeeding a legislative override is unlikely to happen due to the supermajority of pro-admin representatives in the 19th Congress.

Given the doubtful override, Salceda sees pushing a new bill that keeps the same agenda of providing election workers benefits as a better solution.

“We keep the spirit of the proposal without disrupting the tax system,” he added.

Edited by Nehmia Elyxa Relano