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Negros, Bacolod Councils Oppose Sugar Excise Tax

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 16:14



on Mon, 05/29/2017

Local legislators in both Negros Occidental and its capital Bacolod City passed resolutions last week expressing opposition to the proposed excise tax on beverages, sweetened by using locally-produced sugar.

On Wednesday, the SP of Negros Occidental unanimously approved a resolution urging lawmakers to reduce the proposed excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages from P10 to P5 per liter, in support of the stand of the Visayan-bloc House representatives.

Board Member Alain Gatuslao (5th district), chairman of the committee on laws and ordinances, said the resolution also urged other local government units in Negros Occidental and in the Visayas region to support the reduction of the tax.

Gatuslao pointed out that while the government may earn P22 billion for excise tax, it will have a great impact to the economy and livelihood of sugar-producing provinces, majority of residents of which rely much on sugar.

On the same day, the Bacolod City Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) also passed a resolution opposing their opposition to the proposed excise tax on sugar and the expansion of the value-added tax (VAT), a part of the comprehensive tax reform package (CTRP) submitted by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Bacolod Councilor Caesar Distrito said the CTRP aims to increase taxes on basic commodities, as well as individual income.

Among the commodities included in CTRP is fuel, wherein diesel will see an initial P3 tax per liter, which will later increase to P5 by 2019, and eventually hit P6 by 2020, he said adding that kerosene and liquified petroleum gas (LPG) will also be included in the tax, at P6 per liter.

Distrito said the CTRP also covers the imposition of a P10 per liter excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSB).

“The imposition of these taxes will surely affect the daily consumption of our citizens,” Distrito warned. “With higher fuel prices, the prices of basic commodities will also increase.”

Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. is also pushing for lower excise tax on sugar, and that the P5 levy on sugar – being proposed by Rep. Alfredo Benitez (3rd district, Negros Occ)–”should be lowered further to P2.50 or P2.”

The Sugar Alliance of the Philippines (SAP) also called on Congress for at least five to six years exemption on excise tax, which will only bring the sugar industry down.

Lawyer Dino Yulo, spokesman of SAP, said the sugar industry is just starting its modernization to be more productive and globally competitive, under the P2-billion Sugar Industry Development Fund (SIDF).

“Having this excise tax implemented on us now will just defeat the very purpose of the fund coming from government,” Yulo said.

Earlier, Benitez said that there was a proposal that 15 percent of the proceeds from excise tax be allocated to the sugar industry, on top of the P2 billion annually from the SIDF.

Abang-Lingkod party-list Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano, on the otherhand proposed that the 15 percent share in the projected P3.5-billion incremental revenue– from the P10 per liter excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages–be given directly to the sugar milling districts through the Sugar Regulatory Administration.*

 

 

LGU execs compete in 3rd Albee Cup

Sat, 05/27/2017 - 19:33



Saturday, May 27, 2017

Elected officials of the Third District, from mayors, vice-mayors, councilors, barangay captains and barangay councilmen will see action in the 3rd Albee Cup Inter-LGU Sportsfest that will kick off at the Silay City Natalio G. Velez Sports and Cultural Center, 2 p.m. today.

Congressman Alfredo Benitez, seeing the opportunity to foster stronger camaraderie among public officials in his District and at the same time, promote physical fitness and well-being, launched the sportsfest in 2014. This year’s theme is “ Upod sa hampang, sinadya kag ASENSO sa Metro 3rd”.

Close to a hundred local government officials of Victorias, EB Magalona, Silay, Talisay and Murcia will compete in a series of basketball and volleyball matches in various venues every week-end from May 27 to June 26

Roger Banzuela Event Coordinator and Tournament Director, said events include basketball-men for 39 yrs. old and below; and 40 yrs. old and above. There is also volleyball-men and women, open category. *

3rd Albee Cup Kicks Off

Sat, 05/27/2017 - 17:36




Saturday, May 27, 2017

ELECTED officials of the Third District of Negros Occidental, including mayors, vice mayors, councilors, barangay captains and councilmen will see action starting in the 3rd Albee Cup Inter-LGU Sportsfest which Saturday, May 27 at the Natalio G. Velez Sports and Cultural Center in Silay City.

Congressman Alfredo Benitez, seeing the opportunity to foster stronger camaraderie among public officials in his District and at the same time, promote physical fitness and well-being, launched the sportsfest in 2014. This year’s theme is “ Upod sa hampang, sinadya kag ASENSO sa Metro 3rd”.

Close to a hundred local government officials of Victorias, EB Magalona, Silay, Talisay and Murcia will compete in a series of basketball and volleyball matches in various venues every week-end from May 27 to June 26

Roger Banzuela Event Coordinator and Tournament Director, said events include basketball-men for 39 yrs. old and below; and 40 yrs. old and above. There is also volleyball-men and women, open category. *

NegOcc Provincial Board backs sugar excise tax reduction bid

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 05:48




Thursday, May 25, 2017
By ERWIN P. NICAVERA

THE Negros Occidental Provincial Board urged lawmakers in the House of Representatives to reduce the proposed excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages and similar products to prevent adverse effects to the sugar industry.

The move was made through a resolution proposed on mass motion and was approved during the Provincial Board’s regular session Wednesday, May 24.

Fifth District Board Member Alain Gatuslao, chairman of committee on laws, rules and ordinances, said this is in support of the efforts of congressmen under the Visayan Bloc asking for a lower excise tax on sugar sweetened commodities.

Gatuslao said the Provincial Government is set to distribute copies of the resolution to local government units (LGUs) in Negros Occidental as well as to other provinces.

It will also be sent immediately to Congress which is currently on period of amendments, he added.

“We need to have our sentiments known to other provinces so that they can also extend support to the bid of the Visayan Bloc,” Gatuslao said, adding that the appeal is also in solidarity with all families earning through sugar production, retailing, and other related-activities.

Negros Occidental Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez said on Tuesday, May 23, that he already submitted a proposal to the House committee on ways and means to lower the proposed excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages from P10 to P5 per liter.

The Negrense lawmaker also proposed to remove the additional excise tax of P4 per liter every year on all products using sugar as sweeteners.

The Provincial Board, in its resolution, did not specify the amount of reduction it seeks.

Gatuslao, however, said it would be better if the amount will be lower than the proposal of Benitez.

“We will leave that for the Congress to decide,” he added.

The Sugar Alliance of the Philippines earlier asked Benitez to lobby for more reduction up to P2.50 per liter, and a moratorium of five to six years.

Amid the pronouncement that the proposed cut on excise tax reduction would result to about P22-billion cut in the government’s projected earnings, the board members believed that it may bring more damaging effects to the industry.

“We feel that it could eventually result to bigger amount of losses to the sugar-producing provinces like Negros Occidental as well as to the livelihood of their constituents,” Gatuslao said.

The Provincial Board is also worried that with higher excise tax, companies may resort to alternative sources of sweeteners which could hurt local economy, he added.

Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. also supported the proposal of Benitez to lower the proposed excise tax and to grant the 15 percent of the proceeds from excise tax to the sugar industry.

“Like in the sin taxes from tobacco, tobacco-producing provinces are given their share,” the governor pointed out.

Revenue sharing

Abang Lingkod Party-list Representative Joseph Stephen Paduano on Wednesday, in a press statement, proposed that the 15 percent share in the projected P3.5 billion incremental revenue from the P10 per liter excise tax should be directly given to the sugar milling districts through the Sugar Regulatory Administration.

Benitez had earlier agreed to allocate the 15 percent proceeds share to the Sugar Industry Development Act which he authored, providing an annual fund of P2 billion to the sugar industry.

Paduano, also a Negrense, said his proposal will ensure an equitable distribution of sugar-sweetened beverage excise tax collection among sugar milling districts.

“This will ensure that everyone benefits, especially those mostly affected by the excise tax,” he added.

Paduano added that for beverages using 50 percent local sugar and 50 percent high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the excise tax rate should be P5 per liter.

For products using 40 percent and 49 percent sugar and HFCS, the excise tax rate should be P8 per liter while P10 per liter for those using 39 percent local sugar and below.

“The 15 percent share for the sugar famers shall also be collected from the total sugar sweetened beverage excise tax revenue and will form part of the Sugar Amelioration Fund for the sugar workers and sugar mill workers,” Paduano said.

The remaining collections shall be distributed to the General Fund and other priority programs of the national government, he added. (with reports from MPE and TDE)

Tight Rope: Early politicking

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 20:36



TIGHT ROPE WITH MODESTO P. SA-ONOY
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

It is often said that the early bird catches the worm. What is not asked is what happened to the worm for being early. It is truly said that advice of this nature often do not see the other side.

Politicians are learning to see the two sides of this early-bird, early worm syndrome. So now while most people are concerned about their daily lives, politicians and their propagandists are busy with politicking. The early worm got picked, beaten with hammer and tongs in nightly radio commentaries.

The only one so far left practically untouched by negative comment is Rep. Alfredo Benitez. He is being floated to be a candidate for senator in 2019. He admitted that he is offered a slate in the present administration's senatorial ticket and is inclined to accept. Governor Alfredo Marañon immediately expressed his support.

The governor who is ending his full nine-year term still carries a lot of political clout so that his endorsement is a boon to Benitez' quest. With that Occidental Negros will, in all probability, solidly rally behind the congressman's candidacy.

There is much bases to support the man. It has always been argued that Occidental Negros lags behind Iloilo because we do not have a senator from this province. This thesis is debatable but it is good political propaganda and in a sense bites with the electorates. We can thus expect that this line of campaign will be pursued to its maximum benefit.

We know for a fact that being a candidate, a native of Negros does not automatically make for the winning. We had candidate Negrosanon candidates but they did not get even close to the winning position.

Last year we had one of the most well-known names on the country's political landscape and one of the most active in terms of progressive legislation but the local politicians did not rally behind him. Whatever happened to the “he is from Negros” rallying cry?

Congressman Neri Colmenares comes from a family that had served this province long before the Benitez, Bantug and Zubiri families came into the fore. But he was of a different mold and traditional politicians cannot accept anybody than their own kind.

While being “aton” is a plus factor, the voters and political leaders have different parameters in their choice. Cong. Benitez and his leaders should therefore beware from being trapped in this mentality. The point is simply that they should present him to the electorates on his own merits because he has plenty of it and deserves support. But the Philippines is not Negros or the 3 rd district. There is much work to be done.

That he is endorsed by the ruling party is no guarantee of victory. That has been proven time and again although that is a plus factor.

Another early bird came into the local media with a lot of bang, but the explosion is not of endorsement but “new revelations”. Don't ask me what those are but time will tell.

The point at this stage is the report that Cong. Stephen Paduano, party-list member of Congress representing Abang Lingkod, had expressed interest to run for mayor for Bacolod. Anybody can desire to aspire for a higher or a better position. But he made a “slip of the tongue” though we know it is a fact. He was reported saying he would run “if Cong. Benitez will allow him” or words to that effect.

That was a disaster and the local commentators grabbed him by his political neck and lambasted him. He is not his own man, etc. Other expletives need not be written here momentarily. The main thrust of the attacks against him revolves on his “total” dependence on Cong. Benitez. That being the case, will he serve Bacolod or will he be the surrogate or proxy of the congressman? Will he be dependent on the coat tails (or pocket, as one gag intoned) of Cong. Benitez?

There are even questions what his party list is or what it represents or his competence other than being loquacious. Surely he can explain these questions, after all he is an articulate man and he can make a lot of promises.

Most likely there will be barangay elections in October. There are already alignments and realignments to this forerunner of 2019. Will Grupo Progreso take the main bulk of the winners? Early worms and birds are getting into gear.*

Benitez submits proposal to cut excise tax on sweetened drinks

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 15:10




Wednesday, May 24, 2017
By Teresa D. Ellera

NEGROS Occidental Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez submitted a proposal to the House Committee on Ways and Means to lower the proposed excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages from P10 to P5 per liter.

Benitez also proposed to delete the additional excise tax of P4 per liter every year on all products using sugar as sweeteners.

The Negrense lawmaker, however, agreed on the proposal that 15 percent of the proceeds from the excise tax be allocated to the Sugar Industry Development Act (Sida) which he authored in the House of Representatives.

The Sida provides that the sugar industry be provided P2 billion annually as Sugar Development Fund.

Benitez said he will meet with the members of the Visayan Bloc Wednesday, March 24, to solicit suggestions that he can incorporate in the proposed amendments.

He added that the Department of Finance also asked to discuss his proposal to reduce the excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages from P10 to P5 per liter since it would mean a P22-billion reduction in the projected earnings of the government.

“If we will allow the original proposal, time will come that the prices of soft drinks and other beverages would be higher than building a house,” Benitez said.

For his part, Emilio Yulo III, spokesperson of Sugar Alliance of the Philippines, asked Benitez to lobby for more reduction up to P2.50 per liter, and a moratorium of five to six years.

Sugar leaders in Negros Occidental had earlier expressed strong opposition to the proposed P10 excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages as it could lower the consumption and sales of sugar thereby, hurting the industry.

SAP calls for excise tax exemption

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 18:38



BY CARLA GOMEZ
Monday, May 22, 2017

The Sugar Alliance of the Philippines is strongly opposing the proposed excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages as it will further bring the sugar industry down and is calling for a 5 to 6-year exemption at least, its spokesperson, Emilio Yulo III, said yesterday.

The Visayan Bloc is set to file an amendment to the proposed excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages today, which, if not amended could cause the sugar industry losses estimated of P7.8 billion annually, Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District) told the DAILY STAR Friday.

AP10 per liter excise tax on sugar-sweetened drinks is being proposed, but Benitez said their amendment will push for a reduction to P5 to lessen the impact on the sugar industry.

Yulo said the excise tax on sugar-sweetened drinks will be a double whammy as far as the sugar industry is concerned and they sent representations to both Houses of Congress to hear their appeal.

“We appreciate the move of the Visayan bloc, and, in fact, we met with some of them last week to discuss how to further reduce the proposed tax. We are aware that this has been certified urgent by the administration in order that our fiscal standing will not be affected by the proposed reforms in income taxes, however, we appeal that the sugar industry be spared from this considering the present situation we are in, due to the unabated entry of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup),” Yulo said.

Yulo said SAP is thankful that Benitez and “the other representatives from Visayas are working on the reduction but we continue to hope that we will be given at least a 5 to 6-year exemption from this or at the very least a staggered implementation of excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages.”

“The sugar industry is just starting its modernization to be more productive and globally competitive under the Sugar Industry Development Act fund of P2 billion. Having this excise tax implemented on us now will just defeat the very purpose of the fund coming from government,”Yulo said.

Benitez told us that the 15 percent from excise tax revenues will more or less amount to P7 billion which will be added on top of SIDA and this may hasten the 10-year development plan for the industry and we are thankful for that, he added.

“However, we have not really taken off from the SIDA implementation and this tax reforms which are eyed to be implemented soon, will probably hurt the sugar industry badly,”Yulo said.

“We are also joining cooperatives opposing the elimination of their exemption from taxes as we have hundreds of agrarian coops in the sugar industry who have survived because of this exemptions. Taking that away from them, coupled with the additional excise tax will spell doom for our already embattled sugar industry”, Yulo added.*CPG

Sugar leaders in Negros Occidental oppose excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 18:34




Monday, May 22, 2017
By Marchel P. Espina

SUGAR leaders in Negros Occidental have expressed strong opposition to the proposed excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages as it could hurt the industry.

In a statement issued Sunday, May 21, former vice governor Emilio Yulo III, spokesperson of Sugar Alliance of the Philippines, said the move “will further bring the sugar industry down.”

“This is double whammy as far as we are concerned and we have sent representations to both Houses of Congress to hear our appeal,” he said.

Last week, a House bill increasing the excise tax on sugar sweetened drinks, including high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), was filed by Sultan Kudarat Representative Horacio Suansing Jr. and his wife Nueva Ecija Representative Estrellita Suansing.

Under the proposal, which seeks a P10 per liter excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages, 20 percent of the fund will go to Sugarcane Industry Development Act (Sida) while the 80 percent will be allocated to the General Fund.

Mr. Suansing, who was born in Bacolod City, said the proposed measure is seen to remedy the excessive importation of HFCS to protect the sugar producers and industry.

However, the Visayan Bloc in the House of Representatives led by Negros Occidental Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez is looking to reduce the proposed excise tax authored by the Suansings.

Abang Lingkod party-list Representative Stephen Paduano said they are pushing for a P5 per liter excise tax on sweetened beverages to minimize its effects on the sugar industry.

Yulo said they appreciate the move of the Visayan Bloc.

“We met with some of them last week to discuss how to further reduce the proposed tax,” he added.

He said the sugar leaders are aware that “it has been certified urgent by the administration so that our fiscal standing will not be affected by the proposed reforms in income taxes.”

“However, we appeal that the sugar industry be spared from this, considering the present situation we are in due to the unabated entry of HFCS,” Yulo added.

The unregulated entry of HFCS, an alternative sweetener used by beverage firms, had caused a massive drop in sugar prices which alarmed the industry leaders.

Yulo said they are thankful to Benitez and other lawmakers in the Visayas for seeking the reduction of the excise tax on sugar sweetened drinks.

“We continue to hope that we will be given at least a five to six-year exemption from this or at the very least a staggered implementation of excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages,” he said.

Yulo said the sugar industry, which has a P2-billion allocation from Sida, is just starting its modernization to be “more productive” and “globally competitive.”

“Having this excise tax implemented now will just defeat the very purpose of the fund coming from government,” he added.

Yulo said that Benitez told the sugar industry leaders that 15 percent of the excise tax revenues, which is about P7 billion, will be added to the fund of Sida.

“This may hasten the 10-year development plan for the industry and we are thankful for that,” he added.

However, Yulo reiterated that the proposed tax reform eyed to be implemented soon will “probably hurt the sugar industry badly.”

“We are also joining cooperatives opposing the elimination of their exemption from taxes as we have hundreds of agrarian coops in the sugar industry who have survived because of these exemptions. Taking that away from them, coupled with the additional excise tax will spell doom for our already embattled sugar industry,” Yulo further said.

‘No to Sugar Excise Tax’

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 15:34



on Mon, 05/22/2017 By Eugene Y. Adiong

The Sugar Alliance of the Philippines (SAP) expressed opposition to the proposed excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages claiming that it “will further bring the sugar industry down.”

Lawyer Emilo Yulo, spokesperson of SAP, said the proposal is a “double whammy as far as we are concerned. We have sent representations to both Houses of Congress to hear appeal.”

“We appreciate the move of the Visayan bloc and in fact, we met with some of them last week to discuss how to further reduce the proposed tax. We are aware that this has been certified urgent by the administration in order that our fiscal standing will not be affected by the proposed reforms in income taxes, however, we appeal that the sugar industry be spared from this considering the present situation we are in due to the unabated entry of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS),” Yulo said in a statement.

Earlier, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez (3rd district) said they will push for the amendment to House Bill No. 292 authored by Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing proposing to slap a P10 per liter excise tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.

Benitez said they will propose for a reduction to P5 to lessen the impact on the sugar industry.

The proposal, Benitez said will mean a P7.8 billion annual losses as well as an increase of retail prices of beverage products from 30 percent to more than 100 percent.

“We are thankful that Rep. Albee Benitez and the other representatives from Visayas are working on the reduction but we continue to hope that we will be given at least a 5 to 6-year exemption from this or at the very least a staggered implementation of excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages,” SAP said.

It added that the “sugar industry is just starting its modernization to be more productive and globally competitive under the SIDA fund of P2 billion. Having this excise tax implemented on us now will just defeat the very purpose of the fund coming from government.”

According to Rep. Benitez “the 15 percent from excise tax revenues will more or less amount to P7 billion which will be added on top of SIDA and this may hasten the 10-year development plan for the industry and we are thankful for that. However, we have not really taken off from the SIDA implementation and this tax reform which is eyed to be implemented soon will probably hurt the sugar industry badly.”

“We are also joining cooperatives opposing the elimination of their exemption from taxes as we have hundreds of agrarian cooperatives in the sugar industry who have survived because of this exemption. Taking that away from them, coupled with the additional excise tax will spell doom for our already embattled sugar industry,” SAP said.*(Eugene Y. Adiong)

 

 

I'll consult guv on 2019 plan: Albee

Sat, 05/20/2017 - 19:38



BY CARLA GOMEZ
Saturday, May 20, 2017

Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) yesterday said Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. will be one of those he will consult for whatever plans he may have for 2019.

“He will be my guiding light”, he said.

Benitez was reacting to the statement of Marañon that he will support the solon for whatever post he runs for in the 2019 polls, especially for senator.

“I will consult him (the governor) and listen to whatever he advises,” Benitez said.

Benitez said he was asked by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to run for the Senate in 2019 and that is something that you cannot just brush aside.

But he said he has yet to make a decision on what to do in 2019.

Marañon said if Benitez runs for the Senate he believes Negros will unite behind him because he is hard-working, bright, and has a lot of connections.

“If he (Benitez) is a senator, he can do a lot for the improvement of Negros.It's been a long time since Negros had a senator, the last timewas about 30 years ago,” the governor added.*CPG

Visayan bloc moves to cut P7.8B loss

Sat, 05/20/2017 - 19:34



BY CARLA GOMEZ
Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Visayan Bloc is set to file an amendment to the proposed excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages Monday, which, if not amended could cause the sugar industry losses estimated at P7.8 billion annually, Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) said yesterday.

He said he is working on getting all the members of the Visayan bloc to jointly file the amendment as Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has given them until Monday to fine tune the measure.

House Bill No. 292 authored by Nueva Ecija Rep. EstrellitaSuansing proposesto slap a P10 per liter excise tax on sugar-sweetened drinks,but Benitez said their amendment will push for a reduction to P5 to lessen the impact on the sugar industry.

The bill is being heard by the Committee on Ways and Means.

The P7.8 billion annual losses, estimate by the sugar millers, is based on the fact that if prices of beverages go up, less people will buy them, he said.

With less people buying sugar-sweetened drinks that means their manufacturers will be ordering less sugar, he added.

The P10 per liter tax will increase retail prices of beverage products from 30 percent to more than 100 percent.

Benitez said 15 percent of what is collected from the sugar sweetened beverage tax will be given back to the industry, and the proposal is to put it in the Sugar Industry Development Act fund.*CPG

Burial aid institutionalized

Sat, 05/20/2017 - 11:45



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Another first in the area of service delivery for the benefit of indigent families of the Third District of Negros Occidental will soon be launched.

Rep. Alfredo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District) who during his first term of office in 2010 has been initiating ways and means to institutionalize and maximize delivery of basic services to constituents, has been planning with local executives in his District to improve implementation of funeral and burial assistance to poor families.

With the workshop conducted Thursday and attended by key planners and implementers of social services of local government units in the Third District, the Integrated Burial Assistance Program for Metro Third will soon be finalized and launched.

Leading the meeting was Benitez who urged everyone to share experiences, best practices as well as problems encountered in the implementation of burial assistance in their respective areas.

Also present were Victorias Mayor Francis Frederick Palanca, Victorias Vice Mayor Jerry Jover, Talisay Mayor Neil Lizares, Silay Vice-Mayor Joedith Gallego, Murcia Vice Mayor Gerry Rojas who led their respective technical working groups composed of Sangguniang members who chair social services committees, city/municipal administrators, executive assistants tasked to oversee activities related to social services, social welfare officers, and budget officers.

Providing support services for the program were Benitez’ Congressional Staff led by Mon Tarucan and the District Team led by Paz Marie Valenciano and Lagrimas Silvestre.*

Guv to back united front for Benitez

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 20:43



BY CARLA GOMEZ
Friday, May 19, 2017

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday said he will support Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) in whatever post he runs for in the 2019 polls, especially for senator.

The governor was reacting to the statement of Benitez that the unity of the two local political parties in Negros Occidental will be a determining factor in his decision on whether to run for senator in the 2019.

Marañon heads the United Negros Alliance, while Benitez is a leader of the Love Negros group.

Benitez confirmed his inclusion in the PDP-Laban senatorial slate in the 2019 elections as publicly announced by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Marañon said Benitez decision to run for senator will be very good for the province, and he will help him unify Negros.

“If he isa senator, he can do a lot for the improvement of Negros.

It's been a long time since Negros had a senator, the last timewas about 30 years ago,” he said.

The governor described Benitez as hardworking, bright and with a lot of connections.

“I believe if he runs for senator, Negros will unify to support him,” Marañon said.*CPG

Lawmakers to temper P6 diesel tax

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 13:43



By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 19, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Congressmen are trying to find ways to temper the proposed P6 tax on diesel, which they believe will immediately increase its pump price by the same amount and result in higher transportation and consumer prices.



Congressmen are trying to find ways to temper the proposed P6 tax on diesel, which they believe will immediately increase its pump price by the same amount and result in higher transportation and consumer prices. (Philstar File Photo)

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas have given their colleagues up to Monday to submit their proposals before the House tackles the bill containing the planned diesel tax in plenary session.

The proposals would be treated as amendments to the bill, which is based largely on the administration’s so-called tax reform package put together by the Department of Finance (DOF).

Quirino Rep. Dakila Cua, who chairs the ways and means committee, is the principal author of the measure.

Alvarez and Fariñas have vowed to approve the bill on second reading on Wednesday and on third and final reading before May 31. If it passes, the bill will be sent to the Senate. Both are confident Congress would approve the so-called tax reform this year so the proposed levies could take effect by Jan. 1 next year.

The Visayas bloc led by Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez said yesterday it would submit at least two proposals to temper the planned new and higher taxes – including the one that seeks to amend the Cua-DOF bill that would automatically suspend the P6 tax on diesel, kerosene, cooking gas, and bunker fuel for electricity generation, and higher taxes on other petroleum products.

“Our suggestion is that when crude oil prices reach $80 per barrel, the collection of those levies should be suspended. Collection will resume when crude prices fall to below $80,” he said, admitting that he is yet to have the estimate on the cost of fuel when per barrel price is at $80.

As of this week, crude oil prices in the world market are around $50 per barrel. Local oil firms increased their pump prices last Tuesday, with the price of premium gasoline going up to P50.30 per liter.

This means that premium gasoline could retail for P80 if crude sells for $80 in the world market. In January 2014, local fuel prices soared to P60 per liter, triggering widespread protests.

During Wednesday’s closed-door caucus in which House members agreed to approve the Cua-DOF bill, some congressmen asked DOF Undersecretary Karl Chua if the administration was not worried about the additional hardship the new and higher taxes would inflict on the people.

“He just nonchalantly reminded us that the public once endured P60 gasoline prices,” one member told reporters.

Another amendment that Benitez would propose is the reduction of the planned tax on soft drinks, energy drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages by half or from P10 to P5 per liter.

He said he and his colleagues fear that the levy could discourage consumption or drive big manufacturers to just import sugar, which would depress prices to the detriment of sugar farmers.

“Millions depend on the sugar industry. They would be adversely affected,” he said.

Under the Cua-DOF bill, the proposed P6 tax on diesel, kerosene, cooking gas and bunker oil would be spread over three years: P3 on Jan. 1, 2018, an additional P2 on Jan. 1, 2019 and P1 on Jan. 1, 2020.

At present, there is no excise tax on these products. Existing levies on gasoline, waxes, greases, lubricating oils and other petroleum products would go up to P8 per liter or kilogram next year, then to P9 in 2019 and P10 in 2020.

The measure would also increase the tax on cars from 100 percent to more than 300 percent.

House bloc seeks freeze on petrol tax

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 13:19



May 19, 2017 by Maricel Cruz

THE 42-strong Visayan congressmen on Thursday sought an automatic suspension of the implementation of the proposed six-peso tax on petroleum products to shield consumers from the adverse effects of higher fuel prices.

Negros Oriental Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez, head of the Visayan Bloc in the House of Representatives, said the main objective of Congress was “to protect consumers.”   

Lawmakers led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez held an all party-caucus on Wednesday to fine-tune the Palace-proposed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or TRAIN, formerly known as the Comprehensive Tax Reform Package that is scheduled for approval next week. 

Meanwhile, the Finance department has agreed to work with the House of Representatives for the full implementation of the Lateral Attrition Law to ensure better revenue collection in support of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Package now under deliberation in the House, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said on Thursday. 

Alvarez made the statement after the House conducted an all-party caucus Wednesday to set the stage for the CTRP bill’s approval on second and third and final reading before Congress adjourns sine die on June 2.

Benitez said the Visayan group intended to make the proposal, especially if the price of crude oil hovered around $80 per barrel as the awmakers had been given until Monday next week to submit their proposed amendments to the measure.

“We feel that this is an effective way to protect consumers from the erratic prices of petroleum products,” Benitez said. 

“There should be a provision for automatic suspension in the implementation of the proposed tax on petroleum products.” 

Quirino Rep. Dakila Cua, House committee on ways and means’ chairman, said the Finance department’s decision to spread out the proposed six-peso-per-liter increase in the excise tax on oil into three tranches of P3, P2 and P1 in the first three years would lighten the burden on the riding public.

House Bill 5636, principally authored by Cua, imposes the following tax rates: Leaded premium gasoline, per liter of volume capacity, from P5.35 to P7 in 2017, P9 in 2018 and P10 in 2019; unleaded premium gasoline, per liter of volume capacity, from P4.35 to P7 in 2017, P9 in 2018 and P10 in 2019; aviation turbo jet fuel, per liter of volume capacity, from P3.67 to P7 in 2017, P9 in 2018 and P10 in 2019; kerosene, per liter of volume capacity, from P0.00 to P3 in 2017, P5 in 2018 and P6 in 2019.

Diesel fuel oil, and on similar fuel oils having more or less the same generating power, per liter of volume capacity, from P0.00 to P3 in 2017, P5 in 2018 and P6 in 2019; liquefied petroleum gas, per liter, from P0.00 to P3 in 2017, P5 in 2018 and P6 in 2019; asphalts, per kilogram, from P0.56 to P3 in 2017, P5 in 2018 and P6 in 2019; bunker fuel oil, and on similar fuel oils having more or less the same generating power, per liter of volume capacity, from P0.00 to P3 in 2017, P5 in 2018 and P6 in 2019.

These tax rates shall also be increased by four percent every year thereafter effective Jan. 1, 2020, through the revenue regulations issued by the Finance secretary.

At the same time, Benitez said he and his colleagues coming from sugar-producing provinces would move to slash the imposition of P10-per-liter tax on sugar sweetened beverages to P5.

“We fear that the 10-peso proposal is too high and may kill the local sugar industry. We will propose this to slash by half,” Benitez said.

He said the proposal as it was now was “anti-poor” as the sugar industry was already burdened with the value-added tax and creditable withholding tax.

Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, president of the the Party List Coalition composed of 47 representatives, said their members were considering abstaining during the scheduled second- reading voting of the TRAIN on Wednesday next week unless a compromised agreement was reached.

Batocabe said his group would insist on retaining the VAT exemptions for small and medium cooperatives even if they removed the exemptions of some electric and major lending cooperatives.

“A compromise should be reached here because we feel that this will be detrimental to our sector,” Batocabe said.

Cua said HB 5636, which he principally authored, would be passed on second reading next week, and on third and final reading before Congress’ first regular session ended on June 2.

“We are confident in the leadership of our speaker and our majority deader that with their spearheading the super majority, we are almost 100 percent sure that it will be passed in the lower chamber,” Cua said.

HB 5636 would exempt workers earning P250,000 and below for the years 2018 and 2019 from paying personal income taxes on top of then tax-free P82,000 worth of allowances and 13th month pay annually.

Once enacted, the bill is projected to generate P206.8 billion in revenues. 

But Negros Oriental Rep. Arnulfo Teves said that instead of passing the bill, the Bureau of Customs must be able to collect P230 billion in annual tax leakage.

HB 5636 also proposes to restructure the excise taxes on alcohol. 

It would also impose an ad valorem tax on brand- new automobiles based on the manufacturer’s or importer’s selling price, net of excise and VAT.

House bloc seeks oil price spike safeguard in tax bill

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 19:18




By Jovee Marie de la Cruz - MAY 18, 2017

The House of Representatives’ 42-man Visayan bloc wants to include a provision in the Duterte administration’s tax-reform package suspending automatically the excise taxes on petroleum once crude oil hover around the $80-per-barrel mark.

In an interview with reporters, PDP-Laban Rep. Alfredo Benitez of Negros Occidental, head of the Visayan bloc, said automatic suspension of excise taxes on petroleum is needed to safeguard Filipino consumers.

“Protecting the consumers should be the foremost consideration, as oil-price increases have domino effects to the prices of basic commodities,” he said.

“We feel that this is an effective way to protect consumers from erratic prices of petroleum products. There should be a provision for automatic suspension in the implementation of the proposed tax on petroleum products,” Benitez said.

Lawmakers were given until 12 noon on Monday to submit their individual amendments to the Department of Finance-backed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train).

He said the bloc will include the provision on automatic suspension in the list of amendments it want to be included in the tax package.

The main intention of House Bill 5636 is to exempt workers earning P250,000 from paying personal income taxes (PIT).

To recover the government revenue losses from lower PIT, the bill also expands the value-added tax (VAT) base, adjusts excise taxes on petroleum and automobiles, and eases the rates of estate and donor’s taxes.

The measure imposes the following tax rates: Leaded premium gasoline, per liter of volume capacity, from P5.35 to P7 in 2017, P9 in 2018; and P10 in 2019; unleaded premium gasoline, per liter of volume capacity, from P4.35 to P7 in 2017, P9 in 2018 and P10 in 2019; aviation turbo jet fuel, per liter of volume capacity, from P3.67 to P7 in 2017, P9 in 2018 and P10 in 2019, kerosene, per liter of volume capacity, from P0.00 to P3 in 2017, P5 in 2018 and P6 in 2019.

Diesel fuel oil, and on similar fuel oils having more or less the same generating power, per liter of volume capacity, from P0.00 to P3 in 2017,  P5 in 2018 and P6 in 2019; liquefied petroleum gas, per liter, from P0.00 to P3 in 2017, P5 in 2018 and P6 in 2019; asphalts, per kilogram, from P0.56 to P3 in 2017, P5 in 2018 and P6 in 2019; bunker fuel oil, and on similar fuel oils having more or less the same generating power, per liter of volume capacity, from P0.00 to P3 in 2017, P5 in 2018 and P6 in 2019.

The bill, however, said that for three years, not more than 40 percent of the yearly incremental revenues generated from the proposed petroleum excise tax shall be allocated to fund social benefits programs and granting of fuel vouchers to qualified transport franchise holders.

The measure also said that, for the same period, the remaining yearly incremental revenues shall be allocated for infrastructure, health, education and social-protection expenditures.

Sugar

Besides amendments to the excise tax on petroleum products, Benitez said the Visayan bloc will ask the leadership to cut the imposition of P10-per-liter tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) to P5.

“We fear that the P10 proposal is too high and may kill the local sugar industry. We will propose this to [be] slash[ed] by half,” Benitez said.

A P10-per-liter tax, he added, is a big burden to tens of thousands of sugar farmers.

Under the bill, SSBs shall be levied an excise tax of P10 per liter of volume capacity, subject to yearly 4 percent rate increase after the effectivity date of January 1, 2018.

The bill refers to SSBs to a non-alcoholic beverage that contains caloric sweeteners or added sugar or artificial/noncaloric sweetener. It may be in liquid form, syrup or concentrates, or a solid mixture, that is added to water or other liquids to make a drink.

SSBs include soft drinks, soda, pop, soda pop; nonalcoholic flavored carbonated or noncarbonated beverages, fruit drinks, sports drink, sweetened tea and coffee drinks and energy drinks.

The bill, meanwhile, said there shall, likewise, be allocation from sugar-sweetened beverage excise tax revenue where 85 percent of the tax collection shall be allocated for government priority programs, while the remaining shall fund for the welfare and benefit of sugar planters/farmers.

United Neg. Occ. Vital to senate bid: Benitez

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 15:53



BY GILBERT BAYORAN
Thusday, May 18, 2017

MANILA- The unity of two local political parties in Negros Occidental is now a determining factor for Rep. Alfredo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) to decide on whether to run or not for senator in the 2019 elections.

Benitez, who confirmed his inclusion in the PDP-Laban senatorial slate in the 2019 elections as publicly announced by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, said, “The province shall be united so that we will have a better chance”.

If the province is not united, it is difficult to aspire for a national position as we cannot count on our bailiwick,” Benitez, who is now on his last term as congressman of the Negros Occidental 3rd district, said.

Even before the last election in 2013, Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. has been expressing his support to Benitez, should he decide to run for senator.

Marañon and Benitez had supported rival vice-gubernatorial candidates in last year's election, with incumbent Vice-Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson emerging as the winner.

If there is no unity in the province, then we have to re-evaluate our chance, Benitez, who had confirmed earlier that he was also being pushed to run for governor in Negros Occidental, also said.

Lacson, whose name is being floated by some to run for governor in 2019, should Benitez decide to run for senator, earlier said that his decision will be known in 2018.

Benitez, who, with Maranon and almost the majority of local officials in Negros Occidental joined the PDP-Laban, a political party of President Rodrigo Duterte, said “Nothing is impossible if we sit down and talk”, in response to a question on the possibility of unifying local political parties in the province.

If he decides to run for senator, and with the support of Gov. Maranon, Benitez said “Then let's help each other to ensure that we have a united front. We have a province that will support a candidatefor the Senate 100 percent”.

Asked if he will include Bacolod City in the unity effort, he said that it will include the whole Western Visayas and even theVisayas.

Rep. Alejandro Mirasol (5th district, Negros Occ) earlier said that it is now time for somebody from Negros to become a senator.* GPB

 

 

Benitez: Negros first before Senate

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 13:41




Wednesday, May 18, 2017
By Marchel P. Espina

NEGROS Occidental Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez, who was included in the senatorial slate of the administration party in the 2019 elections, said he has yet to make a decision about his political plans.

However, he said that his priority right now is Negros Occidental.

“We need the province united so that we will have a better chance. If the province is not united, it’s hard to vie for a position in the national level,” said Benitez, who is now on his third and final term.

There should be a unified candidate for governor and vice governor for the next elections, he said.

The lawmaker said he is open to sit down and talk with the other group about their plans in 2019.

Benitez and Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson lead Love Negros while Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. heads rival group, United Negros Alliance (Unega).

However, both Benitez and Marañon have joined the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan after President Rodrigo Duterte was elected last year.

Lacson has remained with the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

“I always believe that nothing is impossible if we sit down and talk. It’s between the group of Gov and our group,” he said.

Benitez said that if there will be no unity, then he has to “re-evaluate” his chances in seeking the senatorial seat.

He said that he could run for governor, senator, or rest from politics in the next elections.

“My third option is to rest. It (politics) is tiring,” he added.

Marañon had been urging Benitez to run for senator in the next elections.

“We have to help each other to ensure we have a united front, a province that will support a candidacy to the Senate 100 percent,” Benitez said, adding that both parties have to “unite” to realize the goal.

Moreover, Benitez said it’s not only Negros Occidental and Bacolod that should unite, but also the entire Visayas.

“Like Capiz, they have one Capiz – their candidates are unopposed. We’re like that before, one Negros,” he said.

Still, he added, “Right now, political plans are very fluid. Let’s work first and fulfill those campaign promises in 2016.”

Love Negros was formed in 2013 to field then vice governor Genaro Alvarez for governor, after Marañon decided to seek a second term.

In 2010, Marañon and Alvarez were running mates under the original Unega then referred to as UNA.

Albee to Focus on Negros Political Unity

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 05:06



on Mon, 05/18/2017 by Eugene Y.Adiong

Negros Occidental needs to be united it is “so we will have a better chance, “ Rep. Alfredo Benitez said here.


“If the province is not united it is hard to seek national positions,” Benitez said.

Benitez said that “nothing is impossible if sit down and talk.”

“If we can’t unite we have to re-evaluate our chances,” he pointed.

Earlier, Governor Alfredo Maranon Jr had endorsed Benitez to take over Capitol after his term ends in 2019.

The governors statement runs contrary to his previous declarations he wants the congressman to run as senator.

Benitez reiterated that his options when his term ends “is to run for senator, for governor or take a rest from politics.”

“Let us help each other. Let us have a province united 100% to support a candidate for the Senate,” he said.

Pressed if he decides to run for governor he make incumbent Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, he said “its too early to talk about line-ups.”

“This talks of politics two years before the elections us unusual”, the congressman said.

Benitez also expressed his appreciation to the support of businesman Marlon Maranon, head of Angat Pilipinas for his possible senatorial bid.*(Eugene Y.Adiong)

 

 

‘Partial Victory For Sugar Industry’

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 06:04



on Wed, 05/17/2017 By Eugene Y. Adiong

The sugar industry has scored a partial victory with the withdrawal of beverage giant Coca Cola-FEMSA of the injunction case it filed against key government officials, Atty. Emilio Yulo, spokesperson of the Sugar Alliance of the Philippines said yesterday.

Yulo said for now there is no threat to the constitutionality of sugar order no.3 Atty. Mark Kok representative of Coke during yesterday’s inquiry on the importation of high fructose corn syrup of the House Committee on Agriculture said that the company has already ordered its lawyers to withdraw the case in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

“We want a more definitive action for the industry,” Yulo said. He expressed optimism that sugar prices for the next crop year will improve from the current P1200. This is a confidence building measure in our search for a win-win solution, Yulo pointed out. He also expressed support for proposals to impose excise tax on imported HFCS.

Sultan Kudarat Rep. Horacio Suansing Jr.(2nd dist) and his wife Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing (1st dist) will propose a bill to levy excise tax on the importation of HFCS.

Suansing said that his proposal will help the sugar industry. I will still consult with the various government agencies, he said. Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez (3rd dist) said he hopes that Coke will follow what it verbalize during the Senate and House hearings.*(Eugene Y. Adiong)

 

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