Nationwide round-up (02/14/21)

Tax exemption sought for donated COVID-19 vaccines, other supplies

A SENATOR is seeking to exempt donated vaccines and other medical supplies used for the coronavirus response from donor’s tax. Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara filed Senate Bill No. 2046, which proposes the tax holiday to be in effect starting this year to 2023. “In order to bolster the supply of vaccines, this bill makes it easier to accept donations of critical products, essential goods, equipment or supplies needed to contain and mitigate COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), including the vaccines, by exempting these from donor’s tax for a definite period, subject to certain conditionalities,” Mr. Angara said in his explanatory note. The measure covers raw materials for personal protective equipment (PPE), all drugs, vaccines medical devices for treatment, equipment for waste management and other supplies as well as equipment as determined by the Department of Health (DoH) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The donated material “shall not be intended for commercial use and shall be for free distribution to or use for the containment or mitigation of COVID-19,” the bill states. The donations will be subject to post audit by the Bureau of Internal Revenue or the Bureau of Customs, rules of deductibility under the National Internal Revenue Code and applicable rules and issuances of the BIR, it read. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Expanded list of foreigners allowed entry takes effect Feb. 16

IMPLEMENTATION of the expanded list of foreigners who are allowed to enter the country will start Tuesday, February 16, according to Immigration Commissioner Jaime H. Morente. Under Resolution No. 98 issued by the national task force handling the coronavirus response, foreign nationals with valid working visas, student visas, Special Visa for Employment Generation, and Special Investors Residence Visa are now allowed entry. Holders of Special Resident and Retirees Visa and temporary visitor’s visa are also allowed to enter provided they present an entry exemption document from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Mr. Morente also clarified that “those whose visas were issued after March 20 (2020) would still need to present an exemption.” An earlier resolution by the task force already opened the country’s border for those traveling with a Filipino or former Filipino spouse, while nationals of visa-free countries under Executive Order 408 are allowed a visa-free entry, or the “balikbayan privilege,” explained BI Port Operations Division Chief Candy N. Tan. Protocols such as pre-booked accommodation in an accredited quarantine hotel or facility remain in effect. — Bianca Angelica D. Anago

Solons give contrasting timetable for charter amendments

DEBATES on the proposed economic amendments in the 1987 Constitution will be pushed to next week, according to one lawmaker, but another said the resolution is set to be heard by Monday, Feb. 15. AKO BICOL Party-list Rep. Alfredo A. Garbin, Jr., chair of the House of Representatives committee on constitutional amendments, said sponsorship and debates will begin next Monday, Feb. 22. “It’s already referred for the plenary sponsorship and plenary debates will start on Feb 22,” he said in a mobile message to BusinessWorld. The resolution will insert the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to specific provisions in the constitution concerning economic matters. The measure was approved last February 2. On the other hand, Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz A. Quimbo said in a statement the measure is due to be heard on the 15th. Ms. Quimbo stressed the need to work on the proposed amendments fast, adding that revising certain provisions in the constitution to allow more foreign equity will help boost the economy while it recovers from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. “We need to act now. We need to introduce flexibility into the economic provisions of our Constitution so that the Legislature has leg room to steer the economy according to the demands of the time,” she said. — Gillian M. Cortez

Voter registration schedule adjusted to Tue-Sat

VOTER registration starting this week will be adjusted to Tuesday to Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced on Sunday. “All Offices of the Election Officer (OEO) nationwide will be open to receive applications for voter registration from Tuesdays to Saturdays, including holidays, from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. The new schedule will be implemented beginning February 15, 2021,” the poll body said in a statement. Comelec offices will be closed Mondays for disinfection. Comelec is targeting four million new voter registrations by end-September. Over a million have so far registered since the start of the registration period last year. A national and local election is scheduled May 2022. — Gillian M. Cortez

Labor groups push for gov’t ratification of ILO convention vs harassment, violence

TWO labor groups on Sunday called on the government to ratify an International Labor Organization (ILO) convention that prevents harassment and violence in the workplace and other related venues as they commemorated the 26th year since the enactment the Philippine’s Republic Act 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act. In a statement, the Associated Labor Unions and Building and Wood Workers International said the government’s ratification of ILO Convention 190 will help in promoting and realizing “the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment.” ILO’s Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) was first adopted by the organization in 2019. Only six countries have so far ratified the convention. The convention covers protection against inappropriate and violent actions that arise from the workplace; places during work related trips, training, and other similar activities; work-related communication; in employer-provided accommodations; and during commuting to and from work. — Gillian M. Cortez

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