Press Release
June 17, 2016

Landmark laws on tax, labor and education to uplift lives of Pinoys

Hailing the Senate's remarkable performance, Senator Sonny Angara presented his legislative accomplishment in the 16th Congress totalling to 20 laws all aiming to improve the lives of Filipinos.

"I've been privileged to have been a part of this legislative history. With the dedication of and cooperation among the members of both houses of Congress, we were able to pass a number of landmark laws and important socio-economic reforms that will make an impact in the lives of most if not all of our countrymen," Angara said.

Angara, who has been a legislator for 12 years, has already more than 80 laws under his belt.

He served as representative of Aurora Province from 2004 to 2013 (from 13th to 15th Congress) before he was elected senator. He was named one of the most productive lawmakers in the House of Representatives after he principally authored the most number of national bills in the 14th Congress.

He now continues to be one of the hardest workers in the Upper House as he authored or sponsored almost a third of the Senate's more than 60 national bills signed into law in his first three years as senator.

He also authored or sponsored seven local bills signed into law, and sponsored three treaties.

Although a newbie senator, he effectively chaired five committees: 1) Ways and Means, 2) Games, Amusement and Sports, 3) Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, 4) Foreign Relations, and 5) Tourism.

Angara, who is the vice chairperson of the labor and foreign relations committees, served as acting chairperson and was tasked to preside hearings, and sponsor and defend bills, in the absence of Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who is currently detained, and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who is on medical leave. As vice chairperson of the tourism committee, he also presided most of its public hearings.

As chairperson of such committees, he principally sponsored 12 laws of national significance--the highest number among neophyte senators.

Angara authored a total of 104 bills and 53 resolutions.

He presided 50 committee hearings and meetings, and served as acting majority floor leader in 53 sessions.

"I thought the adjustment from being a congressman to being a senator would be easy but, I have to say, it's a lot of work especially if you want to do quality legislation. I thank my senior colleagues for guiding me and allowing me to make ample contribution to the Senate's outstanding performance this Congress," Angara said.

Tax and labor reforms

Under the powerful ways and means committee, which handles all matters relating to revenue, the Senate passed six bills. He sponsored four of them that were signed into law:

(1) RA 10653 that provides that 13th month pay and other benefits not exceeding P82,000 shall be tax exempt;

(2) RA 10708 or the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act (TIMTA) which promotes transparency and accountability in the grant and administration of tax incentives to registered business entities;

(3) RA 10754 that exempts persons with disabilities (PWDs) from value added tax (VAT); and

(4) RA 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) which introduces reforms to Customs procedures including the raising of the tax exemption ceiling of balikbayan boxes.

Angara has been the Senate's leading voice in pushing for income tax reform--to make the system of taxation more equitable and progressive--and has vowed to continue working on the passage of income tax reform in the next Congress.

Under the labor committee, the Senate passed 10 bills, seven of which were enacted and three are awaiting President Aquino's signature. Among the notable new labor laws include:

(5) RA 10691 or the Act Strengthening the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) to help more Filipinos, especially in poorer areas, get a job;

(6) RA 10706 or the Seafarers Protection Act, which prevents ambulance chasers, particularly lawyers, from taking advantage of the plight of seafarers;

(7) RA 10801 or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Act, which strengthens government's support to OFWs and mandates greater representation of OFWs in OWWA so that the needs and sentiments of Filipinos abroad will be better addressed;

(8) RA 10771 or the Philippine Green Jobs Act;

(9) RA 10741 or the Act Strengthening National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC);

(10) RA 10789 and (11) RA 10757 or laws adjusting the retirement age of race horse jockeys and surface mine workers, respectively.

"I was happily surprised when the Senate Tax Study and Research Office and the labor committee told me that we were able to surpass the number of approved bills as compared to previous Congresses. Some of these bills had languished in the legislative mill for decades," Angara said.

Sports and tourism development

Under the sports committee, he shepherded the passage of (12) RA 10699 that grants bigger incentives and benefits to winning national athletes, and recognizes athletes with disabilities as national athletes.

He also sponsored laws establishing sports academies and training centers in Talisay, Cebu; Alfonso, Cavite; Dapa, Surigao del Norte; Oroquieta, Misamis Occidental; and, Tagum, Davao del Norte to hone the skills and raw talent of young athletes from the provinces and jumpstart grassroots sports development.

Under the tourism committee, he called on authorities to improve the country's airport infrastructure and facilities so as to sustain the growth of Philippine tourism over the past years, which he believes is a major job generator in the country.

Under the foreign relations committee, he sponsored three double taxation avoidance agreements that seek to promote international trade and improve political relations of the Philippines with Italy, Germany and Turkey.

As chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Commission on Appointment, he facilitated the appointment of 137 ambassadorial posts, chiefs of mission, career ministers and foreign service officers.

He is also one of the vice chairpersons of the Finance Committee where he defended the budget of 10 government departments and agencies.

Educational reforms

A known advocate for education like his father former Senate President Edgardo Angara, he is the author of recently enacted laws, which he had been filing since his days in Congress, that would ensure wider access to quality education such as the (13) Unified Student Financial Assistance System Act (UNIFAST), (14) Ladderized Education Act, (15) the Open Learning and Distance Education Act, and (16) the Open High School System Act.

Among other laws of national significance that he authored include the (17) Youth Entrepreneurship Act, (18) Department of Information and (19) Communications Technology Act, (20) Rare Diseases Act and Farm Tourism Act.

"Ang atin pong mga isinusulong na batas ay iyong tiyak na makatutulong sa bawat Pilipino at makapagbibigay oportunidad sa kanilang pag-angat sa buhay. Makaaasa po kayo na tuloy-tuloy ang ating pagsisikap na makalikha ng mga batas na tutugon sa mga suliranin ng ordinaryong mamamayan," Angara said.

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