Legarda defends Angara over tax reform bill

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Loren Legarda came to Senator Juan Edgardo Angara's defense after President Rodrigo Duterte singled him out over the issue of tax reform.

In the President's second State of the Nation Address, he had jokingly threatened Angara over his 2019 reelection bid, as he urged the Senate to pass Malacañang's version of the tax reform bill in its entirety. Angara is the chairman of the Senate ways and means committee tasked to steer the measure.

Legarda on Wednesday, July 26, denied that the Senate is moving slowly on the bill. She said it is not Angara's fault, as the senator has been hearing the measure. (READ: Duterte's tax reform: More take-home pay, higher fuel and auto taxes)

"It's not Sonny's job singly, or it's not his fault at all, that we seem slow. And we are not slow. He's been hearing it. So I'm here to defend and to support the chair," Legarda said during a tax hearing.

Beyond getting more government revenues, the measure should also correct the loopholes in the country's tax system, noted Legarda.

"And that's why I'm here is to put on the record that he may have been mentioned, and that's good. It means that there is a focus on tax reform. And that's focus not just on additional revenues, but also on correcting the weaknesses in the tax system. That's why it's called a tax reform measure. Just that good word for the reelectionist senator," she said.

In response, Angara thanked Legarda and quipped: "That said, madam chair, you can be my campaign manager."

Angara earlier said he is willing to resign from his post over the bill, as he insisted some provisions of the executive version are anti-poor, including the proposed higher taxes on fuel and sugar-sweetened beverages. (READ: How will the proposed tax reform package affect Filipinos?)

The House of Representatives had approved the proposed tax reform package last May 31. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.