Sin tax bill gets Congress’ approval, awaits PNoy’s signature

The bill seeking to impose higher taxes on tobacco and alcohol products got full approval from Congress Tuesday night, making the measure just shy of President Benigno Aquino III's signature before full enactment.

In a voice vote on Tuesday night, the House of Representatives swiftly ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the sin tax bill.

At the Senate, the controversial measure survived a close vote for ratification, with 10 senators voting for its full approval and nine opposing it.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III, Senators Joker Arroyo, Ralph Recto, Francis Escudero, Gregorio Honasan, Ramon Bong Revilla, and Bongbong Marcos voted against the ratification.

Those who approved the measure were Senators Edgardo Angara, Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Franklin Drilon, Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Sergio Osmena III, Francis Pangilinan, Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, and Antonio Trillanes IV. The ratification came after a joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives reconciled the conflicting provisions in their versions of the bill. "After conducting three separate bicameral meetings, your bicameral conference committee has come up with a reconciled version, that in our opinion, best exemplifies the diverse interests involved in this measure while recognizing our common goal of looking after the welfare of our country," sin tax bill sponsor Sen. Franklin Drilon said during his speech on Tuesday. Among the points that were reconciled were the total revenue target and the burden sharing between the tobacco and alcohol industries. The compromise reached by the two chambers included the total excise tax collection of P33.96 billion for 2013, P42.82 billion for 2014, P50.63 billion for 2015, P56.86 billion for 2016, and P64.18 billion for 2017, or a total of P248.49 billion in five years. On the other hand, the burden sharing between tobacco and alcohol industries will be 69-31 in 2013 instead of 60-40 as earlier proposed by the Senate and 87-13 by the House of Representatives. — DVM, GMA News

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