Bicam shameful act on Tobacco Tax puts Universal Health Care Program in jeopardy | SWP Press Release Dec 13 2017
SocialWatch Phils·Wednesday, December 13, 2017
A very low P2.50 tobacco tax increase per year on the average, resulting to a unitary tax of P32.50 for 2018 that was included in the TRAIN bicameral conference committee report, is a shameful act. This action will not be able to sustain the government’s universal health care for all program. This is the statement of Social Watch Philippines, a network of civil society organizations pushing for financing for development. The P69.4B sin tax incremental revenue for 2016 was earmarked for universal health care program specifically for PhilHealth premiums for the poor, health policy, regulations and administration of personnel benefits, health facilities enhancement program including capital outlay; support to hospital operations, and medical assistance to the poor and medicines to local health structures. It also supported programs such as the doctors to the barrios, health awareness, quick response funds, and attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). On the other hand, the expected incremental revenues from the P2.50 tobacco tax increase amounting to P5B is way below the targeted budgetary needs to implement the expanded universal health care for all program, including systems reform and primary care for all. According to the Department of Health (DOH), on top of its current programs, the government needs an additional P70B to finance and provide essential health package for all Filipinos in 2018. We also have to take into consideration that the country spends P210B on four (4) diseases attributed to tobacco smoking alone: lung cancer, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Coronary Artery Disease (COD) and Cerebro-Vascular Disease (CVD). Worse, it is a deceitful move because it was a last minute insertion during the bicameral conference of the TRAIN Package 1; when it was previously denied several times during the Senate plenary deliberations despite citizens’ clamor. The Senate never bothered to deliberate and approve the bills filed by Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Sen. JV Ejercito proposing a unitary increase of tobacco tax to P60, with expected revenue of P50-60B and P90, with P80-90B revenue, respectively. Legislators who proposed and government officials who supported the P2.50 increase in tobacco tax are deliberately undermining the government’s health program and should be tagged as health saboteurs putting at risk the health of the population and the entire nation.
Isagani R Serrano Jeck Reyes-Cantos Rene Raya Marivic Raquiza Janet Crndng Mars Mendoza Sheic Sims Dhel Lubyo Ivy Esparagoza Elijah San Fernando Tax Tobacco to the Max