PUP Students’ Appeal to the President this Christmas: Sign UHC into law; Certify as urgent tobacco tax hike bills | 24 Dec 2018
SOCIALWATCH PHILS·TUESDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2018
A week before Christmas, students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) and other members of Social Watch Philippines (SWP) from various communities marched to Mendiola to appeal to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to sign the Universal Health Care (UHC) bill into law and certify as urgent Senate bills promoting significantly high unitary tobacco tax increase.
The group proposes the passage of a twin bill UHC and Unitary Tobacco Tax Increase to the Maximum Level, tagged as the youth sector’s Christmas wish campaign “Tax Tobacco To The Max for UHC.”
Currently, there are two tobacco tax bills that are lying dormant at the Senate, awaiting the second Committee on Ways and Means public hearing to be set by Committee Chair Senator Sonny Angara: Senator Manny Pacquiao’s Senate Bill (SB) No. 1599 that seeks to raise tobacco tax to P60/pack and Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito’s SB 1605 increasing tobacco tax to P90/pack. Both bills were filed in October 2017.
PUP Central Student Council President Ralyn Rodriguez, also a member of SWP Youth, expressed support for both Senate bills, particularly that of Senator Ejercito’s which sets the maximum tobacco tax increase rate, and will prevent one million new generation of smokers by the end of President Duterte’s term and raise much-needed revenues for UHC.
Rodriguez says that their campus experience and even international researches say that increase in cigarette price through raising tobacco tax is still the most effective way to prevent the youth and the poor from becoming the new generation of smokers.
“Educational discussions among students in the Campus are not enough to prevent smoking among the youth. Bulsa po talaga ang nagdidikta kung makaka-akses o makakabili sila ng yosi. Sa ngayon, napakamura pa rin nito (the affordability of cheap cigarettes makes them accessible to youth and students)," said Rodriguez.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez continues to express disappointment over the tax rates passed by the House of Representatives (HOR) in November 2018. The HOR passed on second reading a P37.50/pack tobacco tax rate, a measly P2.50 increase from the current P35/pack unitary tax rates.
“HOR knew during the hearings that the low tax increase would still result to 200,000 new smokers in 2019. We were appalled by this anti-youth and anti-health act by our Representatives,” she added.
Nonetheless, Rodriguez and her party PUP SPEAK, press on with the battle at the Senate.
“The Senate has the opportunity to correct the insulting HOR-passed tax rates. May the Ways and Means Committee Chair Senator Angara live up to the promises of his ‘Alagang Angara’ campaign, protect the youth from the killer tobacco, and make Universal Health Care bill, of which he is also an author, come true,” she said.
Rodriguez argues that UHC and tobacco tax increase are closely linked, the latter being first and foremost a health measure.
“The government savings will be greater in the long run. Most of the top 10 causes of mortality among adults are non-communicable diseases attributable to tobacco use. We may not see the effects of smoking among us young people now but when payback time comes, we will all suffer.” ###
#UHCLawNow #SayYesToUHC #TaxTobaccoToTheMax4UHC #RaiseTobaccoTax4UHC #VoteTobaccoTax
Isagani R Serrano Marivic Raquiza Jeck Reyes-Cantos Rene Raya Janet Crndng Mars Mendoza Sheic Sims Dhel Lubyo AKTIB Philippines Carol Claudio Tax Tobacco to the Max Elijah San Fernando Ralyn Rodriguez RoseAnn Batuigas Maria Fatima Villena Ralph Emerson Degollacion Lottie Salarda Ryan Earnest Goingco Pineda Bawas Bisyo Bawas Bisyo Youth for Sin Tax Movement Alternative Budget Initiative Health Cluster Alternative Budget Initiative Health Cluster
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