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De Lima files bill exempting poll workers from income tax

Opposition Senator Leila De Lima filed a measure that would exempt honoraria, allowances, and other financial benefits of persons rendering service during an election period from income taxation.

In filing Proposed Senate Bill (SB) No. 2456, De Lima said the exemption was warranted given that the perils and difficulties that poll workers would face in the upcoming 2022 elections were expected to multiply amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

While poll workers receive compensation in the form of honoraria and allowances during an election season, De Lima pointed out that these are subjected to income tax just like any other income.

“This hard-earned income, which in many cases is barely enough to cover the daily needs of these individuals, also becomes the price for their safety and lives,” she argued.

“The risks, both physical and moral, themselves justify special treatment for the seasonal poll workers. Truly, the compensation that our poll workers receive is minuscule compared to their invaluable contribution to our democracy.”

Ultimately, De Lima, a former election lawyer, stressed that poll workers play a vital role every election season because they are often called on to be on the frontline of the polls, serve as members of electoral boards, and assist voters on election day.

“Despite the fact that election season in the Philippines is notorious for incidences of election-related violence and deaths, poll workers bravely overcome these hurdles in order to effectively carry out their functions and ensure the safety and sanctity of the ballot,” she said.

“Sa pagsusulong ng panukalang batas na ito, maibalik man lang natin ang nararapat na serbisyo at benepisyo sa ating mga kababayan na nagsisikap at itinataya ang kanilang panahon at kaligtasan bilang mga katuwang sa maayos na halalan,” she added.

(Through this bill, we can justly return the service and benefits to our countrymen who try their best and who place themselves in peril as election workers.)

Meanwhile, the reelectionist senator on Saturday encouraged youth voters to choose candidates who prioritized the West Philippine Sea issue. 

Speaking on behalf of De Lima, human rights advocate Antonio La Viña acknowledged that most of the new registered voters are aged 18 to 21.

The Commission on Elections earlier reported that 4,094,614 new voters belong to the age group. 

“It’s very significant because the youth will be impacted by what happens in the West Philippine Sea,” said La Viña in an episode of online talk show "The West Philippine Sea Catch."

“Senator De Lima encourages the youth to really come out and understand what is happening and be self-aware, huwag magpabola po (do not be deceived),” he added.

“Our leaders are vying for the voters’ mandate to lead the country and protecting national interests from enemies from within and without has to be the priority and it’s really what the West Philippine Sea issue was all about."

La Viña also advised voters to conduct thorough research, use critical thinking, and engage with other people to fight disinformation. — with a report from Richa Noriega/DVM/VBL, GMA News