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SONA 2023: Marcos pushes for more taxes, military pension reform

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday appealed to Congress to support priority legislations including additional tax measures and the reform of the military pension.

In his second State of the Nation Address (SONA), the President called on lawmakers to push for tax measures under the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF) which includes excise tax on single-use plastics, and value-added tax (VAT) on digital services.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno last year already said the economic team is looking into recommending the passage of legislation to tax single-use plastics, and digital transactions.

The MTFF also includes the rationalization of the mining fiscal regime and the motor vehicle user’s charge or road user’s tax, which the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) expects to generate an additional P12.4 billion and P15.8 billion respectively in the first year of implementation.

Marcos also called for the reform of the military and uniformed personnel (MUP) pension, which was among his first marching orders to Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr.

The President in May pushed for “self-regenerating” pension plans for both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in an effort to avoid a scenario in which funds would be depleted.

The economic team, headed by Diokno, had warned of the consequences of the pension payments, with the total yearly payouts expected to hit the P1-trillion mark by 2035 from P213 billion in 2023.

Other key legislations cited by Marcos include the amendment of the Fisheries Code, the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act, and the Cooperative Code, along with the New Government Procurement Law and the New Government Auditing Code.

He also called for the Anti-financial accounts scamming, the Tatak-Pinoy (Proudly Filipino) law, the Blue Economy law, the Ease of Paying Taxes, the LGU Income Classification, and the Philippine Immigration Act.

“Hinihiling ko ang inyong tiwala at pakikiisa. Sa ganitong paraan, makakamtan natin ang ating tanging hangarin: ang maginhawa, matatag, at panatag na buhay para sa lahat ng Pilipino,” Marcos said.

(I call for your trust and cooperation. In this way we will achieve our ultimate goal: a comfortable, stable, and secure lifestyle for all Filipinos.)

This is in line with the AmBisyon Natin 2040 which was unveiled by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in 2015, covering goals for the next 25 years.

Water department

Marcos also called for the passage of the Department of Water Resource Management, as the country faces the dry El Niño phenomenon.

“Ang tubig ay kasing-halaga rin ng pagkain. Kailangan nating tiyakin na may sapat at malinis na tubig para sa lahat at sa mga susunod na salinlahi. Kasama na rito ang tubig na ginagamit natin para sa sakahan,” he said.

(Water is as valuable as food. We also need to ensure that there is enough clean water for all and for the next generations. This includes water used for irrigation.)

“Considering its fundamental importance, water security deserves a special focus. Our efforts must not be scattershot, but rather, cohesive, centralized, and systematic,” he said.

While Congress has yet to approve the creation of a department, Marcos in April ordered the creation of the Water Resources Management Office, lodged under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The government has allocated P14.6 billion for water supply projects this year and has installed some 6,000 rainwater collection systems across the country, in a bid to boost supply ahead of the dry spell. — BM, GMA Integrated News