Lacierda: Palace not behind Recto’s quittingBy Maila Ager
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Tuesday washed off its hands over Senator Ralph Recto’s resignation as chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means, saying it had nothing to do with the resignation.
Recto, who is allied with President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party and part of the majority bloc in the Senate, left his post Monday amid strong objections from government officials, who opposed his committee report on the sin tax bill.
“The decision to resign by Senator Recto is his own prerogative. We didn’t have any hand there. I think based on news accounts, there was a loud protest from the public regarding the sin tax measure that was—or, rather, the Senate committee report. But we leave it with Senator Recto,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Tuesday.
“Sinabi naman po sa privilege speech ni Senator Recto kung saan po nanggaling ‘yung pressure at kami po ay wala kaming kinalaman po sa pag-resign ni Senator Recto,” Lacierda said.
(Recto said in his privileged speech where the pressure lies and we have nothing to do with the resignation of the senator.)
Malacañang remained hopeful that the Senate’s version of the sin tax bill would address and ‘sufficiently fund’ the universal healthcare program of the administration.
“As to when it will happen, I think we would leave it with our Senate allies because apparently there has been a withdrawal of the Senate committee report,” Lacierda said.
Recto’s version of the bill would only generate between P15 billion to P20 billion compared with the administration’s proposed P60 billion revenue target from the tax measure.
But Lacierda said the House of Representatives’ version of the bill, which hopes to generate additional P30 billion revenue, was already acceptable.
“The House version is already a compromised. Remember. We were asking for P60-billion, it has gone down. So, as far as we know, that was acceptable to us. So with respect to the Senate version, we have not discussed that,” said the spokesman.
When asked however if Malacañang would now support the House version, Lacierda said, “No. As far as we know, of course, it has to go through bicam. So we have yet to see first the Senate version.”