Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago needs your help.
The feisty senator asked netizens and university students to help her battle Senator Ralph Recto's recommended "watered-down" version of the controversial sin tax measure.
"I am gobsmacked, speechless with amazement at the committee report. It bears no recognizable resemblance to my bill," Santiago said.
Santiago, in Senate Bill No. 3429, wanted Senate to increase excise tax that will be imposed on tobacco and alchohol products in hope to dissuade smokers and drinkers.
She hoped to impose a unitary tax system on sin products that would generate P60-billion on the first year of implementation, which can be used to improve universal health care in the country.
But when Recto submitted his panel's recommendation to the plenary on Wednesday, the government only stood to collect at least P14.8 billion revenues from tobacco products and P7 billion from alcohol products.
"When cigarettes and liquor are cheap, more people will use them. The Philippines already has one of the lowest prices of cigarettes and alcohol in Southeast Asia," Santiago said.
Santiago noted that smoking is taking at least 240 lives every day. She added there is at least 25 million Filipino youth, 18 years old and below already smoking.
"If they continue to smoke, half of them will die" she said.
"My bill imposes a unitary tax system, as recommended by the World Health Organization. The Recto bill uses a 3-tier tax rate for tobacco and alcohol products, making them cheaper and thereby encouraging their use," she added.
The senator said the unitary tax system which she used in her bill is simplified and easier to administer than a multi-tier system, which authorizes tax officials to classify brands according to tiers.
This practice, she emphasized, only invites corruption and abuses.
But Senator Gregorio Honasan defended Recto, and claimed Senate Commitee on Ways and Means' proposal is not yet final and can still undergo several changes.
Honasan said Recto's projection was reasonable and based on positions of all stakeholder invited during the senate hearings.
On Wednesday, Recto proposed a 121 percent hike or P2.72 to P6 increase in taxes imposed on low-priced cigarettes, which is significantly lower compared to 700 percent hike proposed by congressmen.
Recto defended his bill saying that his proposal is a realistic, responsible and reliable way in getting additional taxes from sin products.
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