Health advocates urge Duterte to veto tobacco tax rate in TRAIN Bill

Joniel Monton

Group calls on President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the low tobacco excise tax in the TRAIN bill.

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Some doctors and health advocates want to change the provision on excise tax on tobacco products under the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN)Bill.

For them, the tax rate increase is insufficient and questionable as it only came into the picture during the bicameral conference committee meeting.

“I am appealing to the President, please, line veto tobacco tax in this tax reform bill as it passed in the House of Representatives and Senate,” said Dr.  Maricar Limpin, executive director of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines and Action on Smoking and Health Philippines.

Under the ratified TRAIN version, tax rates on tobacco will reach up to P32.50 in the first 6 months of 2018.

This will increase to P35 starting July 1 to December 31, 2018.

While in 2020-2021, tax rates will be at P37.00 and P40 for 2022 until 2023.

After 2023, a four percent increase will be implemented annually.

Health advocates wish to raise the tax rate to 60 pesos which is expected to provide an addition of 68 billion pesos in government revenue each year.

The group maintains that if the government is sincere in stopping smokers they should increase its tax to a much higher rate.

UP College of Medicine professor, Dr. Antonio Dans said doctors can only help patients, one at a time, while lawmakers and legislators can do so much more.

“Ito ‘yung pagkakataon na pirma lang, pirma lang ng mga senator at congressmen ang kailangan para mailigtas ang kalusugan ng napakaraming tao (this is the chance where only the signatures of senators and congressmen are needed to save the lives of so many people),” said Dr. Dans.

But according to the law, a line veto will only be applicable under the General Appropriations Act or the law in relation to the nation’s funds.

The bill as a whole will be junked once it is vetoed by the President since it is not in accordance with the provision of the proposed law.

 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said, “That is the mandate of Congress. Whether or not we agree, it is the Congress that sets the policy.”  – Mai Bermudez | UNTV News & Rescue

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