The president of the Philippine Public School Teachers Association (PPSTA) has given his full backing to the proposed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN), which he views as a “beneficial” tool that will uplift not only the economic status of its members, but their dignity and morale as well.

In a statement, PPSTA president, Dr. Kahar Macasayon also said this tax reform package will put flesh into the constitutional mandate of granting the highest budgetary priority to education and help fulfill the goal of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers to make public schools attractive to the best qualified minds in the teaching profession.

“The tax reform serves as an eye-opener to the current economic standing of government employees most especially the public school teachers in the country. This tax reform is a social legislation intended to uplift the dignity and morale of our teachers, notwithstanding the intricacies within their sphere,” said Macasayon in a statement of support addressed to Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua.

He added that “in the several meetings and consultations held on separate occasions with the Department of Finance (DOF), PPSTA considers this tax reform bill a welcom[e] development beneficial to the teachers.”

Macasayon heads the PPSTA whose members include administrators, supervisors, classroom teachers and non-teaching support personnel in the country’s public schools.

“Now, it is but timely that the Tax Reform Bill now pending in Congress be passed in the soonest possible time in order to address pressing concerns affecting [the] welfare (of public school teachers) and (their) well-being in general,” read the statement.

The TRAIN was approved by the House of Representatives as House Bill 5636 last May 31 and is now under consideration by the Senate. This tax reform bill aims to slash personal income taxes by making the first P250,000 in income of compensation earners tax exempt while providing for complementary measures that will raise additional revenues to help fund the government’s unprecedented spending on infrastructure, education, health and other social services.

The PPSTA noted that the Constitution provides that “the State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education and ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment.”

It also took note of Republic Act 4670 or the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers that aims to “promote and improve the social and economic status of public school teachers, their living and working conditions, their terms of employment and career prospects.”

The PPSTA pointed out that despite this constitutional mandate and a teacher-friendly law, the reality, however, is that the current tax system runs counter to the goals of these statutes “because teachers are paying bigger taxes while receiving less as take home pay.”

“In fine, the undersigned, in his capacity as President of Philippine Public School Teachers Association (PPSTA) hereby signifies his intention to support the passage of the Tax Reform Bill as this will greatly benefit public school teachers as a whole and other lowly-paid and fixed income earners in the country,” the statement said.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has said the TRAIN will ensure the fiscal sustainability of the Duterte administration’s massive investments not only in infrastructure but also in human capital and social protection programs for the poorest of the poor.

Buoyed over the prospects of higher infrastructure spending and the anticipated passage of the TRAIN, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) raised growth forecasts for the Philippines from 6.4 percent to 6.5 percent in 2017 and from 6.6 percent to 6.7 percent next year.

“The government is making progress in ramping up infrastructure investment,” said the ADB in its Asian Development Outlook Supplement. “In addition, tax reform likely to be approved in the second half of 2017 will unleash purchasing power in 2018 through lower personal income tax,” it added.

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