Press Release
January 30, 2019


Senator Sonny Angara said he was elated over the approval on third and final reading of three separate bills he put forward to help the poor meet their basic needs, attend to the concerns of senior citizens and exempt registered small-scale miners from taxes if they sell their gold to the Bangko Sentral ng PIlipinas (BSP)

The three measures, which cleared the Senate plenary, are the Magna Carta for the Poor, the creation of a government body for senior citizens to be called the National Commission of Senior Citizens and the "Gold Bill" amending Sections 32 and 151 the National Internal Revenue Code to make the sale of gold from small-scale miners to the BSP exempt from income and excise taxes.

"We thank our colleagues in the Senate for giving importance to our measures that will surely benefit the marginalized and underprivileged sectors of our society--the poor, small-scale miners and our beloved senior citizens," Angara said.

Angara, one of the authors of Senate Bill 2121 or the proposed Magna Carta for the Poor, said the measure seeks to uplift the lives of indigent Filipinos by strengthening the government's anti-poverty programs and other socioeconomic development strategies.

The bill, he said, guarantees the rights of the poor to adequate food, decent work, free relevant and quality education, adequate housing, and highest attainable standard of health.

"Through the Magna Carta for the Poor, we will be having an area-based, sectoral and focused intervention to poverty alleviation where every poor Filipino must be empowered to meet the minimum basic needs," Angara said.

In 2015, poverty incidence among Filipinos was estimated at 26.3 percent, which translates to about 26.48 million people based on the country's population of 100.7 million at the time.

The subsistence incidence, or the proportion of Filipinos whose income fall below the food threshold, was estimated at 12.1 percent or about 12.18 million then. The subsistence incidence rate indicates the proportion of Filipinos living in extreme poverty.

Angara is also a co-author of the bill creating the National Commission of Senior Citizens, a government agency devoted to attending to the needs and concerns of senior citizens.

According to the lawmaker, the proposed commission would formulate, coordinate and monitor policies and programs that promote the rights and privileges of the senior citizens' sector.

"Our Filipino citizens have contributed immensely to the growth and progress of the country. As they reach the twilight of their lives, it is our responsibility as a society to respect, protect and promote their rights and assure their physical, mental and social well-being," Angara said.

Based on the 2010 census, there were 6.23 million Filipinos aged 60 years and above. Its projection showed that the number would reach double digit to 14.2 million in 2030 and 22.5 million in 2045.

Angara and his father, the late Senate President Edgardo Angara, are known champions of senior citizens' rights and welfare.

Republic Act 7432 or the Senior Citizens Act of 1993 authored by the older Angara granted elderly a 20-percent discount, while R.A. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 authored by the younger Angara provided the 12-percent value-added tax exemption and the social pension provision.

The young senator has also been pushing for the passage of a bill that aims to double the amount of social pension to P1,000 from the current P500, and widen the coverage of beneficiaries to include all poor senior citizens.

Meanwhile, the Senate also approved on final reading Angara's Senate Bill 2121 which aims to boost the country's gross international reserves (GIR) by granting tax exemptions to small-scale miners who would sell their gold to the BSP.

The tax exemptions cover proceeds from "sale of gold to the BSP by registered small-scale miners" and "sale of gold by registered small-scale miners to accredited traders for eventual sale to the BSP."

He said the bill would not only allow the BSP to shore up the country's GIR, but would also help support the development of the small-scale mining industry as envisioned by Republic Act 7076, or the People's Small-Scale Mining Act of 1999.

"The proposed legislation would have the effect of assisting the BSP in the fulfilment of its mandate under its charter, returning to the formal sector the sale of gold from small-scale mining, and support the trade of small-scale miners as originally envisioned under RA 7076," Angara pointed out.

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