DOH backs Drilon's version of sin tax bill

By Atom Araullo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 07 2012 04:15 PM | Updated as of Nov 08 2012 04:30 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the agency is satisfied with the "Drilon version" of the sin tax bill in the Senate.

"The purpose of the sin tax is to reduce number of smokers, increase revenue for the government's universal health care program. Hindi mo naman talaga mawiwipe out yung smokers, marereduce lang, kasi addicting nga eh. Ang importante yung balanse," said Ona.

The Health Secretary said the DOH is happy with the P40-45 billion projection in revenues of the current version of the sin tax measure, although admitted that P60 billion would have been ideal.

"The national government pays for the health care of the poorest 5.2 million families, pero gusto pa natin magsama ng another 5.6 million families na mahirap din. More importantly, it's a program that we want to sustain indefinitely, and the revenue from the sin tax will help," said Ona.

The Finance department has a target of P60 billion in revenues that will be collected from raised taxes for alcohol and tobacco products. President Benigno Aquino III, earlier this week, has already said he is amenable to accepting a lower revenue haul from the sin tax reforms.

Last month, Senator Ralph Recto presented his version of the bill with only P15-19 billion in projected revenues. Recto later quit as Senate Ways and Means Committee chief and withdrew his bill version, after he was met with criticism from stakeholders and the public in general.