Aquino signs sin tax reform bill into law

Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom
Philippine President Benigno Aquino gives an address at the Malacanang Palace in Manila on October 15, 2012. Aquino on Wednesday signed into law a 2.005 trillion-peso ($49 billion) budget for 2013, vowing to use higher taxes on tobacco and alcohol to boost programmes to reduce poverty

(Update) The sin tax bill is now officially a law.

President Benigno Aquino III signed on Thursday the controversial Sin Tax reform law, which will impose more tax on cigarettes and alcohol products, the Palace said in its official Twitter account.

Seen as both a revenue and health measure, the Six Tax reform law will restructure taxes on tobacco and alcohol products sold in the Philippines. Lawmakers were divided on this measure.

While some saw the additional revenue government will be making from this law, Some lawmakers, including Senator Bongbong Marcos felt the law was "rushed." 

Saying the signing of the bill into law as an early Christmas gift, Aquino vowed the new law will help improve Philippines' ailing health care program.

Aquino said earnings from sin tax will help create more clinics and hospitals. The President also believes higher alcohol and tobacco prices would help deter more Filipinos from getting into the vice.

"Malinaw po ang batayang prinsipyo ng batas na ito: Hangad nating gawing abot-kamay para sa lahat ang benepisyong pangkalusugan, mayaman man o mahirap, sagrado po kasi ang buhay ng Pilipino [This law's aim is clear: We want more Filipinos, rich or poor, to have better access to health services, for life is sacred," Aquino said in his speech.

Aquino also allayed tobacco farmers' fears over sin tax's effect on their livelihood.

"Wala po kayong dapat ikabahala. Ang benepisyong natatanggap ninyo dati ay hindi maglalaho; ang totoo nga po—sa amin pong pakiwari—lalaki pa iyan, habang tumitibay naman ang suporta sa inyo ng pamahalaan sa pamamagitan ng iba pang ayuda.[There's nothing to worry about. The benefits you have won't vanish. In fact, we'll see better government services]," Aquino said.

The Sin tax bill seeks to gather some P40 billion in added revenues. Earlier, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said sin tax would bring up the lowest-priced cigarette sold at P15 to P26.

More related stories on the Six Tax reform law.

Congress ratifies sin tax reform law

Law for revenue and health