Senate of the Philippines (PNA file photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – The Senate approved on final reading Monday the extension of the estate tax amnesty and two other priority measures, four days before the First Regular Session of the 19th Congress adjourns sine die.

Senate Bill (SB) 2219 extends the period of Availment of Estate Tax Amnesty by two years or until June 14, 2025, the second extension after 2021 to 2023.

"Owing to the challenges of the pandemic, there are still people who have not been able to avail of the amnesty even with the first extension. Ipinasa natin itong second extension para sa kanila (We passed this second extension for them)," Senate President Miguel Zubiri said in a news release.

Alongside the extension, the Senate bill also addresses issues with the ease of paying taxes by giving a clear list of requirements to be submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, allowing for easier filing of tax returns and allowing for an installment option for payments.

Electric or manual filing of estate tax amnesty returns, whichever is more convenient for the taxpayer, are allowed under SB 2219, as well as the payment of taxes with any authorized agent bank, revenue district office, or authorized tax software provider.

The bill also grants payment by installment within two years from the statutory date, without civil penalty and interest.

SB 2035, or the Trabaho Para sa Bayan (Jobs for the Nation) Act, was unanimously approved to create an Interagency Council that will formulate action plans for supporting micro, small and medium enterprises, worker upskilling, employer incentives, youth employment and reintegration of overseas Filipino workers.

The employment masterplan shall include a 3-year, 6-year, and 10-year development timeline.

"Employment should not just be an incident to economic development. Generating more decent and permanent employment should be the objective of economic growth, to make growth inclusive and a reality for all," Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said in his sponsorship speech.

Specialty centers

Lastly, the Senate gave its nod on SB 2212 or the Regional Specialty Centers Act that will decentralize the services of specialty centers such as the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines and National Kidney and Transplant Institute, which are all located in Manila Manila.

“This was my promise to the people during last year’s campaign, and it is now only one short step away from becoming law. This bill is a shot in the arm of our public health system. To borrow a medical term, it is a major transfusion of resources to government hospitals in the regions, nearer to the sick who need affordable care,” Zubiri said.

During his first State of the Nation Address last year, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. highlighted the need to make medical services more accessible outside Metro Manila.

Villanueva said they are geared to tackle and pass more crucial bills beneficial to the public.

"We thank our fellow senators for working tirelessly from crafting the bills and resolutions, to participating in committee hearings and debating in plenary to see through the passage of these important measures," Villanueva said. "We owe it to the people to see to it that the laws we pass here in the Senate have hurdled the most rigid scrutiny to ensure that they will truly impact the people."

OFFICIALLY FILIPINO. The Senate approves the Philippine citizenship petition of Canadian-born vlogger Kyle Douglas Jennermann (middle row, 5th from left) on Monday (May 29, 2023). Popularly known as Kulas, the 35-year-old came to live in the Philippines in 2013 and has since created video contents that showcase Filipino culture and the country’s natural resources. (PNA photo by Avito Dalan) 

Other measures

Last week, the Senate passed on third reading SB 2021 instituting the Shared Services Facilities Act to benefit micro, small and medium enterprises; SB 1480 or the Act Rationalizing the Disability Pension of Veterans that will provide a hike in the pension of veterans and their families from PHP1,000 to PHP1,700 to PHP4,500 to PHP10,000; and SB 1964 or the Kabalikat sa Pagtuturo Act that will increase the yearly supplies allowance of educators to PHP7,500 per teacher for School Year 2023-2024 and PHP10,000 for  2024-2025 onwards.

Meanwhile, the Senate granted Filipino citizenship to Canadian vlogger Kyle Douglas Jennermann.

Popularly known as Kulas, the 35-year-old came to live in the Philippines in 2013 and has since created video contents that showcase Filipino culture and the country’s natural resources. (PNA)