Manila, Philippines 31 January 2019 – The public health advocacy group remains hopeful that the Senators will pass the proposed sin tax law before the May 2019 elections. This after the Senate Ways and Means committee, in its hearing, Tuesday, January 29, wasn’t able to pass the committee report for plenary action for further increasing taxes on cigarettes.
“We are hopeful that the committee on Ways and Means headed by Senator Sonny Angara will pass the further increase in excise tax on tobacco before the Congress will go on break on February 9, considering that President Rodrigo Duterte has recently certified the increase in tobacco tax bills as urgent.” said Mary Ann Mendoza, president of HealthJustice Philippines.
Mendoza further added that the realization of the projected 1M less smokers by 2022 and to save more lives from harms of smoking is now at the hands of our legislators.
“We are expectant that our champions in health will approve the raise in excise tax to 90 pesos to effectively curb smoking among Filipinos and to help fund the UHC that is set to be signed by anytime now,” Mendoza said.
During the hearing, representative of various government agencies echoed the call of the President and reiterated the benefits of the proposed measures. The Department of Finance, represented by Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the previous tobacco tax increases have minimal effects on the country’s inflation.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III emphasized that the tobacco tax increase is needed to fully implement the Universal Health Care Act starting next year as the amount needed for its roll out is PhP 257 Billion but the available pooled funds from the various government agencies such as the DOH, Philhealth, PCSO, and PAGCOR is only PhP 217 billion.
There are three pending bills seeking further increase in the excise tax in the Senate, Sen. Manny Pacquiao on Senate Bill 1599, Sen JV Ejercito on Senate Bill 1605 and Sen. Win Gatchalian on Senate Bill 2177. The three senators proposed a raise in tobacco tax 60 pesos, 90 pesos and 70 pesos respectively.
Engr. Emer Rojas, a cancer survivor and president of New Vois Association of the Philippines said, economic studies have shown that increasing taxes on tobacco will discourage the youth from smoking.
“It is our responsibility to help the next generation to live in a smoke-free environment. 240 Filipinos die every day because of smoking re-related diseases in the Philippines. We urge our senators to fast track the deliberations on the tobacco tax bills because the health of the Filipinos is at stake here.”
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