Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima filed a measure seeking to exempt from income taxation the honoraria, allowance, and other financial benefits of persons rendering service during an election period, just months short of the upcoming 2022 National Elections.
In filing Proposed Senate Bill (SB) No. 2456, De Lima said she proposed such exemption because the perils and difficulties that poll workers will face in the upcoming polls is expected to multiply as it will likely be conducted amid an ongoing global pandemic.
“In order to allow poll workers to fully enjoy the fruits of their labor and in recognition of their notable and honorable service to the Filipino people, even in hazardous environments during election seasons, this bill seeks to exempt from income tax, compensation given to persons rendering service during an election period for national or local elections,” she said.
Under the proposed measure, De Lima specifically noted that “honoraria, travel allowance, and other benefits may be granted by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to persons rendering election service pursuant to section 4 of Republic Act No. 10756, otherwise known as the ‘Election Service Reform Act.’”
While poll workers receive compensation in the form of honoraria and allowances during election season, De Lima maintained that these are subjected to income tax just like any other income.
“This hard-earned income, which in many cases is barely enough to cover the daily needs of these individuals, also becomes the price for their safety and lives,” she said.
“The risks, both physical and moral, themselves justify a special treatment for the seasonal poll workers. Truly, the compensation that our poll workers receive is miniscule compared to their invaluable contribution to our democracy,” she added.
Ultimately, De Lima, a former election lawyer, stressed that poll workers play a vital role every election season because they are often called on to be on the frontline of the polls, serve as members of electoral boards and assist voters on election day.
“Despite the fact that election season in the Philippines is notorious for incidences of election-related violence and deaths, poll workers bravely overcome these hurdles in order to effectively carry out their functions and ensure the safety and sanctity of the ballot,” she said.
“Sa pagsusulong ng panukalang batas na ito, maibalik man lang natin ang nararapat na serbisyo at benepisyo sa ating mga kababayan na nagsisikap at itinataya ang kanilang panahon at kaligtasan bilang mga katuwang sa maayos na halalan,” she added. (30)