Senate accepts Recto’s resignation; designates Drilon as acting chairman

October 16, 2012 10:52 pm 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Oct. 16 – The Senate accepted on Tuesday the resignation of Senator Ralph Recto as chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means, designating vice chairman Senator Franklin Drilon as acting chairman.

”With much regret, we take note, we placed on record the resignation of Senator Ralph Recto as chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means and consonance with Senate rules, we designate the vice chairman Senator Franklin Drilon as acting chairman of the committee,” Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III announced on the floor after all-senators caucus.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile clarified that Sotto's announcement was the summary of the results of the caucus held at the Senate lounge for more than one hour.

Recto stepped down last Monday amid uproar against his alleged watered down version of the controversial Sin Tax Bill.

In an earlier press briefing, Drilon said Recto’s committee report could be adopted as basis for the debates.

”In fact, if you look at the report, I indicated in my signature that I will amend because my agreement with Senator Recto is that even if I did not agree with his conclusion and his rates, we agreed that the vice chairman of the committee will submit to the floor the amendments at the appropriate time,” Drilon said.

Drilon said the withdrawal of the report would need the concurrence of the committee or the plenary.

”I think the public interest will dictate that we maintain the committee report, and we debate on it and at the appropriate time, we submit the amendments. We do not have to start from scratch,” Drilon said.

Senator Franklin Drilon hopes to pass the Sin Tax bill by middle of November before the Senate tackles the proposed P2.006-trillion national budget for 2013 at the plenary.

”Our target (Sin Tax bill’s passage) is mid-November, but if worse comes to worst, we can extend it a bit. We will try to get it in November; but if not, we have no choice,” Drilon said.

Drilon has already said he would introduce amendments to the bill, specifically a two-tier tax in the first two years and unitary tax rate thereafter.

Recto’s committee report recommended a three-tier tax imposition and uniform tax rate by 2020.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said the Senate had no choice but to accept the irrevocable resignation but stressed that Recto should have not resigned as chairman of the ways and means panel.

”(But) in my own opinion, he should have stayed as chairman of Ways and Means because he is our resident economist and I have high respect for senator Recto,” Estrada said.

Recto did not show up in the caucus “out of delicadeza” but reiterated through a letter his motion last Monday to withdraw his committee report No. 411 on Senate Billl 3299 or Restructuring of the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco Products) in substitution of House Bill 5727, taking into consideration Senate Bills 2763, 2764, 2998 and 3249.

”The withdrawal of the report would also allow the new chairman a free hand in crafting a new version of the bill with new matters arising after the report,” Recto said in his letter addressed to Senate majority leader Vicente Sotto III.

Recto also recommended that the original House bill 5727 filed by former Cavite congressman and now Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph ‘Jun’ Abaya or SB 3249 filed by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago be adopted as the new committee report to expedite the deliberations.

In his committee report, Recto reduced the estimated target revenue collection from Department of Finance-suggested P60 billion to only P15 billion.

Despite his resignation, Recto said he would continue to support President Aquino as member of the ruling Liberal Party. (PNA)

RMA/JFM

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