Senate to pass Bayanihan, CITIRA bills this week
The Senate committees on finance and on economic affairs were still rushing over the weekend a final report on the proposed extension as senators put in amendments to the law as some of its provisions were criticized or considered to be inadequate.
Boy Santos, file
Senate to pass Bayanihan, CITIRA bills this week
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - June 1, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate may be able to pass the proposed extension of Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and other measures aimed at jumpstarting the economy and assisting sectors severely affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic before Congress adjourns session this week.

RA 11469, enacted last March 25, declared a state of national emergency and gave President Duterte broad “authorized powers” to address the crisis including realigning funds, imposing harsher penalties on certain crimes, and taking over private hospitals, telecommunications facilities and transportation.

The Senate committees on finance and on economic affairs were still rushing over the weekend a final report on the proposed extension as senators put in amendments to the law as some of its provisions were criticized or considered to be inadequate.

Sen. Sonny Angara, who chairs the finance committee, said the extension of the law might be approved if Duterte certifies it urgent.

Among the possible amendments if RA 11469 is extended is the expansion of the emergency financial assistance to the poor and distressed sectors and the scrapping of Section 6, which enumerated several acts considered illegal and punishable with imprisonment of two months or a fine not less than P10,000 but not more than P1 million, or both.

These include local officials disobeying national government policies; hospital owners who refuse to operate in accordance with the directive of the President; hoarding, profiteering, price manipulation, product deceptions, cartels, etc.; refusal to prioritize and accept essential contracts for materials and services; refusal to provide grace periods to loan payments; spread of fake news, and failure to comply with reasonable limitations on the operation of certain transportation sector.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon sought the repeal Section 6 as he expressed alarm over abuses in the implementation of the law.

He stressed the principal purpose of RA 11469 is “to address an emergency and protect the health of our people” and “not to punish a crime per se.”

The Senate is also aiming to pass this week a revised revenue measure that aims to attract investors leaving China by lowering the country’s corporate income tax (CIT) rate and help the economy recover from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Senators reportedly met with economic managers to come up with a final version of the bill—Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act—for the chamber’s approval.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III told reporters during a video conference last week that CREATE might be sponsored on the floor today and possibly passed by Wednesday, the last day of session.

CREATE, submitted by the Department of Finance to Congress last week, was a repackaging of the original Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Reform Act (CITIRA) to make it more of an economic stimulus measure.

CITIRA seeks to gradually lower the corporate income tax from 30 percent to 20 percent by 2030. CREATE accelerates the reduction by five percent or to 25 percent starting as early as July if Congress approves the bill before it adjourns by the end of the week.

President Duterte has certified CITIRA as urgent and Sotto said the certification can be carried to CREATE. If not, Malacañang can issue another one as CREATE is being pushed by the executive branch.

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