Recto won't inhibit from sin tax bicam, supports open meetings

Sen. Ralph Recto will not inhibit if ever he is asked to be part of the bicameral conference committee on the proposed bill seeking to increase the excise tax on tobacco and alcohol products.

"I will always do my job as the Senate requests me to do," said Recto, who had to quit as Senate ways and means committee chairman after health groups accused him of siding with tobacco manufacturers.

Recto, who said he is in favor of opening the meetings to the public, told reporters that he is not applying to be a member of the bicameral committee. He also said he does not know if he will become a member.

"I don't know that yet," he said. "Mahirap naman sabihin baka hindi naman ako ihalal dito, so what for?"

"I'll know depending on my colleagues in the Senate," he added.

He issued the statement after medical organizations asked him and Sen. Bongbong Marcos to inhibit from the bicameral meetings on the sin tax bill. The two were initially opposed to Sen. Franklin Drilon's version of the measure, which aims to generate P40 billion worth of revenue from the sin taxes.

On Wednesday, Recto said, "You've heard all my positions on the merits of the bill, [but] I voted in favor of the sin tax. I may disagree on the revenues, tingin ko masyadong malaki, tingin ko hindi makokolekta."

Recto said he does not know why medical groups are wary of him becoming part of the bicameral meetings. "Bakit naman sila natatakot? 'Yung pinakamahalaga sa akin dun 'yung earmarking sa health... wala silang dapat katakutan," he said.

Recto was the one who proposed the amendments on the bill earmarking additional budget for health.

Drilon had said that the budget for the health sector next year will be at least P80 billion because of the possible sin tax revenues.

Recto appealed to the groups not to worry, even noting that he supports the proposal to open the bicameral meetings to the public.

"I support it to be open to the public. Of course para malaman ng lahat.

We debated it on the floor openly, right?" he said. — Kimberly Jane Tan/KBK, GMA News



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