A group of doctors calling for the passage of the "real sin tax bill" confronted Senator Ralph Recto over alleged lobbying from tobacco industry.
Dr. Anthony Leachon, an internist-cardiologist who serves as a consultant at Department of Health (DOH), also vowed to expose senators who are favoring Recto's "watered-down" version of sin tax bill.
"We confronted him (Recto) to show our dismay and frustration when he ignored the presentation of doctors," Leachon told reporters several minutes after confronting Recto at the Senate lobby on Monday morning.
Leachon, who's also a member of Philippine College of Physicians' Board of Regents, said they were not able to convince Recto to amend his panel's committee report on sin tax bill.
In his committee report, Recto proposed three- tier system on imposing excise tax on tobacco and liquor products, which hopes to generate P11 to P15 billion revenues.
He explained Recto, the chair of Senate Committee on Ways and Committtee, instead promised them his panel will not block the amendments to be introduced by other senators.
"He was cordial during our meeting but at the end of the day, we didn't convince him. But we will not stop pushing for our advocacy, which is good for all," Leachon assured.
The doctor was among the nine medical experts including former Health secretary Esperanza Cabral who personally went to the Senate to push for the other version of the sin tax bill.
Health advocates support the House version of sin tax bill, which proposes to restructure the current law on the imposition of excise tax on tobacco and alcohol product to discourage smoking and drinking.
It suggested a multi-tier system that aims to generate P60 billion on the first year of implementation, which can be used to improve universal healthcare in the country.
Leachon said they will also talk with Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Teofisto Guingona, who expressed support to higher tax on cigarettes and liquor.
He added the office of Senator Edgardo Angara also called to talk to Health Secretary Enrique Ona while Senator Panfilo Lacson said the will propose several amendments to the sin tax bill.
"The number of senators is increasing because they see the rationale of our advocacy. So our next step is to become more vigilant and active," he added.
"Secondly, we plan to name those who are pro-sin tax and pro-health senators so that we'll know who we should vote in the next elections," he warned.
Leachon said they are fighting not only for their constitutional rights but the rights of the non-smokers.
He also expressed optimism on the snowballing effect of support for the original sin tax bill. Even if we have bigger issue on peace agreement, this is still being discussed," he added
Last June, the House of Representatives approved its version of sin tax bill, which is expected to raise P31.35 billion in the first year of implementation.
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