Aquino supports sin tax reform bill

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino III supports the sin tax reform measures pending in Congress, despite being a known smoker.

"Being a smoker is irrelevant. The President supports the sin tax measure," said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.

According to Valte, she heard Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya tell a radio interview on Friday (March 16) that despite being a smoker Aquino was "completely behind the measure."

Abaya, the chair of the House committee on appropriations, is the author of House Bill No. 5727, one of 12 pending measures in Congress seeking to restructure the excise tax on alcohol and tobacco products.

HB 5727 was one of the priority measures that Malacañang submitted to Congress in August last year through the legislative-executive development and advisory council.

Smoking, decision-making

"We support fully the health campaign not only of the National Youth Commission but also of the Department of Health," Valte told a Malacañang press briefing.

But she refused to comment on a question from a reporter who quoted a study that said smoking affected a person's ability to make decisions.

"We don't need to respond to that anymore. We just don't need to," Valte said.

HB 5727 proposes to replace the four-tier system on cigarettes and alcohol with a unitary system that critics said tended to favor high-priced imported brands over lower-priced local brands. (The tax on the cheapest cigarette would increase from 2.72 to 30 pesos per pack.)

Sin tax reform is expected to significantly increase the prices of tobacco products and has been endorsed by Malacañang as it would have the effect of raising an additional 400 billion pesos in revenues for the government during the last four years of Mr. Aquino's term.

Killing the industry

The government's move to raise the so-called sin taxes is being opposed by lawmakers from the Solid North-the traditional tobacco-growing regions of Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon-claiming it would kill the tobacco industry and threaten the livelihood of 2.9 million tobacco farmers and workers and their dependents.

Local distillers, led by the giant San Miguel Corp., warned that the 1,000-per-cent hike in taxes being sought by the sin tax measure would drive local players out of business and leave hundreds of thousands of workers jobless as domestic brands would lose their price advantage over foreign brands.

Very affordable now

The National Youth Commission (NYC) said it is supporting the passage of HB 5727 as it would significantly increase tobacco prices and make tobacco products less accessible to the youth and also generate more funds for a universal health-care system in the country.

NYC commissioner at large Percival Cendaña cited recent studies that said tobacco products are very affordable under the present excise tax rates. He said the very minimal increases in tax in 2005 and 2007 were ineffective in curbing smoking among the youth.

"Raising the price of cigarettes will definitely curb smoking among young people," Cendaña said.

The NYC said there was a need to strengthen the imposition of the current ban on selling tobacco products to minors.

It cited a Global Youth Tobacco Survey conducted in 2003 and 2007 that showed a 40-per-cent increase in smoking prevalence among young Filipinos, or those 13 to 15 years old, from 19.6 per cent (1 million) in 2003 to 27.3 per cent (1.6 million) in 2007.

NYC chair Leon Flores III said that with this trend and without a significant change in other factors affecting smoking behavior, the survey projected that smoking prevalence among teens aged 13 to 15 in 2011 was 38.2 per cent, or 2.3 million individuals.

Flores said the commission was concerned that the youth have become the new targets of tobacco companies because they have a longer life span than older smokers.

Getting young people to start smoking would mean eventually producing more adults addicted to cigarettes, he said.


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros
    Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros

    The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) is calling for the pullout of US Marines who arrived in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last Wednesday to train Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and members of the allied forces. The SAF commandos and the allied forces will secure the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in this city. Bayan-Negros secretary general Christian Tuayon said the US troops might violate the human rights of activists, especially those …

  • China subs outnumber US fleet – admiral
    China subs outnumber US fleet – admiral

    China is building some “fairly amazing submarines” and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States, a top US Navy admiral told US lawmakers on Wednesday, although he said their quality was inferior. Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee that China was also expanding the geographic areas of operation for its submarines, and their length of …

  • Pacman mega fight tax exemption up to Congress, BIR
    Pacman mega fight tax exemption up to Congress, BIR

    Malacañang is leaving it up to Congress and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to consider a proposed special tax exemption for boxing icon Manny Pacquiao in his much-awaited fight with Floyd Mayweather. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday it will have to be discussed by Congress because lawmakers are the ones who enact tax exemptions, special or general. Pacquiao has been dogged by unsettled tax obligations with the BIR. …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA
    Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA

    Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday supported proposals to put Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo under house arrest. “Government prosecutors are opposing house arrest for… Enrile. Binay issued the statement after the 91-year-old Enrile was rushed to the Makati Medical Center on Thursday due to pneumonia. House arrest for him would be the compassionate thing to do,” he added. …

  • 3 Pinays on Forbes power women list
    3 Pinays on Forbes power women list

    Three Filipina executives, who are all daughters of known business tycoons in the country, made it to Forbes’ list of the 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia. Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairman of SM Investments and chairman of BDO Universal Bank, was included in the list for the fourth year in a row since its inception. “Under her (Sy-Coson) lead SMIC became the largest listed company on the Philippine Stock Exchange by market cap. Also in the 2015 list is 70-year-old Helen Yuchengco-Dee, …

  • Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao
    Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao

    An Indonesian cargo vessel that was hijacked a month ago in North Sulawesi, Indonesia has been found stuck in the waters off Mati, Davao Oriental, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported yesterday. PCG spokesperson Armand Balilo said the PCG- Southeastern Mindanao district was informed on Feb. 23 that the M/T Rehoboth was found aground off Barangay Cabuaya. Four personnel from the local PCG district office were sent to verify the report. The vessel was reportedly hijacked by …

  • Phl now biggest grower of GM crops
    Phl now biggest grower of GM crops

    The Philippines is now the twelfth biggest grower of genetically modified (GM) crops. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options