Education workers urged outgoing President Duterte to show some concern for teachers by certifying as urgent the legislation for tax-exemption of election service pay.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines pressed Duterte to “certify as urgent” the legislation for tax-exemption of election service pay noting that he still “owes” them a substantial pay raise due to his unfulfilled promise of doubling teachers’ salaries.
“After six years of failing to fulfill his multiple promises to significantly hike teachers’ pay and abject abandonment, especially in the time of grave crises, we find it only just for the President to ensure that the tax-exemption bill for election service pay gets passed into law before he steps down,” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said.
“It won’t make up for his neglect of teachers, that’s for sure, but it’s the least he can do to provide some lasting relief to election frontliners,” Basilio said.
On May 26, the Senate Bill 2520 — which will tax-exempt election service pay beginning this 2022 elections — passed on second reading.
A counterpart measure in the lower house, House Bill 9652, was already approved on the third and final reading in August 2021.
The current and last session of the 18th Congress will close on June 3 while a bicameral meeting may be needed to harmonize the passed bills of the two chambers — hence, the need to urgently approve the measure.
“The President must wield his power and guarantee that this measure gets approved on final reading and in the bicam that shall immediately take place next week,” Basilio said.
He noted that Duterte only has a few weeks left in office, thus, “he should once and for all, finally include in his priorities the welfare of teachers, who also happen to compose the majority of poll workers.”
ACT noted that since 2018 — when the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) imposed levies on election service for the first time — it has consistently expressed opposition to it and lobbied for its scrapping.
The group claimed that it successfully pushed legislators from both chambers to file and pass relevant bills. However, ACT fears that “time is running out.”
“If the bill doesn’t pass in the 18th Congress, it will have to go back to ‘square one’ in both the Senate and Lower House where new bills must be filed,” ACT pointed out.
ACT stressed that while this measure is long overdue, “we need it now more than ever.”
The group also reiterated its call to scrap the “hefty taxes” on the honoraria and allowances of poll workers as well as to refund previous collections on their election service pay.