By Ellson Quismorio
President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for Congress to further his tax reform reform agenda will require the expertise of an economist such as Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Deputy Speaker Rolando Andaya Jr. had this to say mere hours after former president and Pampanga 2nd district Rep. Arroyo was installed new House Speaker amid the high-drama episode that was Monday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).
“Nilakad na ng mahal na pangulo yung TRAIN niya, yung tax reforms na gusto niya mangyari, may apat pa atang packages yun eh (The President is pushing for his TRAIN, the tax reforms that he wants to happen, I think that has for more packages),” Andaya said.
“So you really need a person who is an economist, with experience in economic growth and all of these happened during her term,” he added.
Arroyo served as Philippine president from 2001 to 2010. Andaya, who represents Camarines Sur’s 1st district, happened to be her Department of Budget and Management (DBM) secretary during the latter five years of her tenure in Malacañang.
Incidentally, former speaker Davao del Norte 1st district Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez also served in her Cabinet. Alvarez was Transportation and Communications secretary from 2001 to 2002.
Arroyo held various lofty positions in the government, but the 71-year-old Arroyo is first and foremost an economist.
With future United States President Bill Clinton as her classmate, she studied at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C.
Arroyo graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Assumption College in 1968.
A decade later, she graduated with a Master’s Degree in Economics from the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU). In 1985, she gained her Doctorate Degree in Economics from the University of the Philippines (UP).
TRAIN refers to Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion, the first package of which took effect as law last January 1.
“TRAIN is already helping poor families and senior citizens cope with rising prices. We have distributed unconditional cash transfers to four million people, and we will help six million more this year,” Duterte said in his SONA.
He expressed desire for Congress to speed up passage of the other four trances of the package.