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More political bigwigs join Duterte partyPresumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s political party continues to grow by the day as more political bigwigs gravitate toward PDP-Laban. San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora of the Nacionalista Party, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez (head of the Visayas bloc), Pangasinan Gov. and incoming Rep. Amado Espino Jr., and Lanao del Norte Gov. and incoming Rep. Khalid Dimaporo of the Liberal Party (LP) were among more than a dozen lawmakers who took their oath as PDP-Laban members at the Marco Polo Hotel in Pasig City. Most of the new PDP-Laban members came from the LP whose leader, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., has declared his support for Duterte and has given his members an option to join the emerging majority coalition.
Incoming Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has assembled an eight-man team to map out the Duterte administration’s tax reform plan, which he said will factor in recommendations by his predecessor that include a contentious hike in consumption tax. Mr. Dominguez, who served for about three months as Environment and Natural Resources secretary before heading the Agriculture department for two years under the post-martial law presidency of the late Corazon Aquino, takes over the reins from outgoing Finance chief Cesar Purisima on June 30. The two started discussions for a transition last Friday, way ahead of that June turnover. Among the outgoing administration’s proposed tax reforms was to raise the value-added tax (VAT) from the current 12% to offset revenue losses amid a plan to chop personal and corporate income taxes.