September 12, 2019
The chief of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) didn’t feel alluded to by President Duterte who recently warned of firing a female official in an economic agency for poor performance.
“I don’t feel being alluded [to] by his statement, PEZA Director General Charito Plaza said in a briefing on Wednesday in Bonifacio Global City.
Unfazed by Duterte’s hint, Plaza said, “I will express our opinion in the Citira (Corporate Income Tax and Incentive Rationalization Act) because it is my moral duty and legal responsibility to speak up.”
Plaza has been very vocal in her push to exempt PEZA from the Citira. She said the planned rationalization of fiscal incentives already caused some foreign investors to hold their expansion or prepare exit plans.
”If I have to speak up, it is because we were not consulted when the bill was formulated. During the negotiations between the DoF and DTI, we were not invited to speak, so in other words, we were deprived [of our right to be heard],” said Plaza.
“ If only there was transparency, participation, consultation from the very beginning, it could not have become this way. There seems to be misunderstanding,” she added.
However, Plaza said she is ready if Duterte plans to fire her. “I am ready. But knowing the president, he is fair and just. He listens,” she said. “That’s why before making an announcement whether it is me or not, it would be good if the President will give us time to be heard,” she added.
She said the information Duterte keeps on receiving are “biased and one-sided.”
“I am facing this risk not because of personal interest. I [am] facing all these risks because I want to keep the interest of the Filipino people,” she added.
Plaza also lamented that Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez did not support PEZA’s position to keep the status quo of incentives.
But Lopez countered that Plaza is “just sensationalizing the issue” and called on the PEZA chief to stop throwing accusations against him.
In his reply via viber, Lopez said, “The policy-direction is very clear. Discussed and approved in the Cabinet and therefore mandated by PRRD. In making those statements, she is going against the president’s policy direction.”
“We are for time bound performance based incentives. Maybe she doesn’t understand that those principles are very rational economic principle that government policy makers adhere to,” he added.
Citira, which is the second package of the government’s comprehensive tax reform program, recently hurdled second reading at the House of Representatives.
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