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Tempers flare as senators double mining taxes without hearings

Senate ways and means committee chair Juan Edgardo Angara was irked with the sudden proposals of his colleagues despite their absence in committee hearings

Published 11:03 PM, November 27, 2017
Updated 11:03 PM, November 27, 2017
marcventures-mining-site-gina-lopez.jpeg

MINING. Senate doubles mining taxes despite the absence of committee hearings. File photo

MANILA, Philippines – In an unusual move, the Senate overwhelmingly voted Monday, November 27, to double mining taxes even though there were no committee hearings conducted earlier to discuss the issue.

It was Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto who first introduced the proposal but later withdrew it. Senator Francis Escudero, however, revived it, saying it was high time to increase taxes of mining companies for “raping” the country.

This did not sit well with Senate ways and means committee chair Juan Edgardo Angara and Senate environment and natural resources chair Senator Cynthia Villar, who both said it was unfair for the industry to be taxed without hearing their side.

Madali ho magsalita pero sana ho may basehan ang sasabihin sa chamber,” Angara said. (It's easy to say that, but this chamber should have a basis for this.)

Villar, for her part, chided Escudero for abruptly introducing the proposal without any discussions in the committee level. As environment panel chair, Villar said they should have been consulted first.

“It’s not in the committee report. If one of the senators would want to tax somebody, they just move on the floor and tax that industry. I think this industry should be given a chance to be heard before we tax them,” Villar said.

“It’s unfair you come to the floor, it's not in the committee report, and you tax them without hearing their side,” she added.

In the end, the proposal won with a vote of 10-2, with 3 senators abstaining from voting. The three abstantions were Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Angara and Villar.

The 2 opposing votes were from Senators Nancy Binay and Richard Gordon.

The 10 who supported the doubling of mining taxes included Recto, Escudero, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Joseph Victor Ejercito, Grace Poe, Sherwin Gatchalian, Risa Hontiveros, Joel Villuaneva, and Juan Miguel Zubiri.

No consultation?

Escudero got back and said Angara’s committee did not thoroughly consult people on the different issues involving the tax reform package, including the sugar-sweetened beverages and fuel, among others,

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> more: https://www.rappler.com/nation/189700-senate-doubles-mining-taxes-without-committee-hearings

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