HealthJustice, a public health policy think tank, called out on the expansion of PMFTC in Misamis Oriental stating that this move undermined the mandated livelihood shift of tobacco farmers to alternative crops under the sin tax law.
Atty. Irene Reyes, managing director of HealthJustice, said, “PMFTC’s expansion is a direct attack on the promotion of a different livelihood for local tobacco farmers. It serves only to perpetuate the tobacco industry, which profits from the addiction of Filipinos.”
PMFTC recently announced its $50 million investment in tobacco plantations in Claveria, Misamis Oriental. HealthJustice said that allowing PMFTC to expand tobacco planting goes against the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and Republic Act 10351 or the Sin Tax Law mandating the gradual shift of tobacco farmers to an alternative livelihood and the provision of financial assistance for such purpose.
WHO FCTC, to which the Philippines is signatory, obligates Parties to promote alternative livelihood for tobacco workers, growers, and sellers. Tobacco farming does not only present health risks and negative economic and social impacts to farmers, it also causes damage to the environment.
Section 8 of the Sin Tax Law provides that 15% of incremental revenues collected from tobacco taxes will be “utilized for programs to promote economically viable alternatives for tobacco farmers and workers.” The objective is to gradually shift to alternative livelihood as countries around the world address the harmful consequences of tobacco products.
The National Tobacco Administration (NTA) is supporting PMFTC’s plans and had conducted a survey that showed most farmers in Claveria are willing to shift to tobacco farming to avail of PMFTC’s production subsidy. HealthJustice said that this is a clear policy incoherence as the NTA should be one with the government in implementing the FCTC.
“The growth of the tobacco industry does not translate into the growth of the economy. The truth is only the tobacco industry profits from this. Behind a cigarette company’s expansion is a plan to get as many people addicted to smoking, trapping families in endless cycle of poverty, and killing Filipinos,” Reyes added.