Ways and means panel tackles ‘sin’ taxes on alcoholic drinks

Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Pia S. Cayetano will lead on Tuesday (August 20) the panel’s second public discussion on the government’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP). 

Discussions will focus on Package 2+ of the CTRP, which imposes higher excise taxes on alcoholic beverages. E-cigarettes, including heated tobacco and vapor products, are also covered by the proposal, but these will be taken up separately in a future hearing. 

Cayetano said Package 2+ of the CTRP aims to discourage consumption of various ‘sin’ products among Filipinos, especially the youth and poor. At the same time, the proposal ensures the financial sustainability of government’s Universal Health Care (UHC) program.

“In the Ways and Means Committee, it’s my job to look for funding for our health programs, because I am very familiar with the needs of Filipino families,” stressed Cayetano, one of the Senate sponsors of the original Sin Tax Reform Act of 2012 (RA 10351).

“When it comes to sin products, these are taxed high in several countries all over the world. Sadya hong hindi mura ang mga nakakamatay na produkto sa maraming bansa. At binubuwisan natin ito dahil ayaw po natin na mamatay ang mga Pilipino sa mga sakit, aksidente, at peligro na dulot ng mga produktong ito. Ayaw din natin na mura ang alak at sigarilyo para hindi nabibili ng kabataan,” explained Cayetano. 

The government’s official position will be presented by officials from the Department of Finance and the Department of Health. 

Representatives from various agencies were invited to give their position on the proposal, including the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Philippine National Police’s Highway Patrol Group, Land Transportation Office; World Health Organization; Motorcycle Federation of the Philippines; and ImagineLaw, Inc.

Civil society and medical organizations were also invited, including Health Justice; Action for Smoking and Health; Action for Economic Reforms; Public Services International; University of the Philippines College of Medicine; Independent Health Advocate Manila Doctors Hospital; Kalusugan ng Mag-Ina; Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance; Philippine Medical Association; Philippine Society of Gastroenterology; Hepatology Society of the Philippines; Philippine College of Physicians; Philippine Academy of Family Physicians; Philippine College of Chest Physicians; 

Philippine Pediatric Society; Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology; Philippine College of Addiction Medicine; The Society of Adolescent Medicine of the Philippines; Philippine College of Occupational Medicine; Philippine Psychiatric Association; Philippine Mental Health Association; Philippine Neurological Association; Philippine Society of Medical Oncology; Philippine Heart Association; Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine; Philippine Society of Hypertension; Philippine Society of Nephrology; and Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism.

Also asked to join the hearing were women and children groups – Child Protection Unit of the Philippine General Hospital; Safe Kids Worldwide Philippines; Commission on Women; and Child’s Rights Coalition.

Tax reform measures form an integral component of the Duterte administration’s strategy to achieve its growth targets under AmBisyon 2040 and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). #

Senators Pia Cayetano and Ronald Dela Rosa at the organizational meeting of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

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