Cayetano, Marcos trade barbs on hearing jurisdiction, but make up after

Published March 9, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Hannah Torregoza

As the nation celebrated Women’s Month, two women senators traded barbs on Monday.

Sen. Imee Marcos and Sen. Pia Cayetano (MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Imee Marcos and Sen. Pia Cayetano (MANILA BULLETIN)

This happened after Sen. Pia Cayetano expressed exasperation after learning that Sen. Imee Marcos tackled the proposed Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA) during discussions on the negative impact of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the country’s economy.

Cayetano, in the Senate session, said she was offended that the bill was taken up by Marcos in a hearing of the Senate committee on economic affairs which the latter chairs.

It was Cayetano, chair of the Senate committee on ways and means, who took up the committee hearings on the CITIRA bill, which she earlier sponsored and is now under the period of interpellation.

Marcos on Monday morning conducted a public hearing to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the livelihoods and businesses in the Philippines which are now reeling from COVID-19.

Invited to the hearing were officials from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), which has been opposed to the removal of fiscal incentives enjoyed by multi-national companies under the proposed CITIRA law.

In the hearing, PEZA officials called on the committee to convince the government not to railroad the passage of the CITIRA bill, in order to provide companies and foreign investors some leeway as more firms are now trying to cope with losses due to the coronavirus.

Malacanang has certified the CITIRA bill as urgent, according to Cayetano. The bill is now up for plenary debates as Committee Report No. 50.

“If a subject matter is already taken up on the floor, have we changed our rules? Are we allowed to have another committee conduct a hearing on exactly the same subject matter in another hearing without even informing the chair, even on a personal level?” Cayetano said in the plenary session.

“I don’t mind, dear colleagues, you can speak to any resource person. You can invite them to your office, but to have them in a hearing on a matter that was pending on the floor, is a slightly different thing.”

This prompted Marcos to clarify that the Senate economic affairs’ hearing did not touch on the tax aspect of the CITIRA measure, but merely tackled the impact of COVID-19 on exports and the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies.

“With all due respect, this had to do with investment policy and as a result we also had to tackle the CITIRA on the sidelines,” Marcos said.

“I think the same thing is occurring with (the Senate investigation on) POGO. Three committees are already investigatin POGO simultaneously,” she said, referring to the Senate committees on women, blue ribbon committee, and labor.

Marcos added that apart from CITIRA, her panel also discussed the impact of the cancellation of the Philippines-U.S. Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the over-all effects of COVID-19 on the economy.

Marcos eventually apologized to Cayetano and said since the scope of the Senate economic affairs is so wide, that even in their rules, the delineation and jurisdiction of certain topics is unclear.

“In the meantime, in the spirit of Women’s Day, which was yesterday, I hope she accepts my apology,” Marcos said.

Cayetano accepted Marcos’ apology in response but complained she has difficulty understanding her explanation that the committee covers a wide range of topics.

To settle the jurisdiction issue, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri referred Marcos’ Senate Resolution No. 339 to the Senate committee on rules.