MANILA, Philippines -- The passage of sin tax bill in a 15-2 roll call vote is a victory for the Department of Health (DOH), an official said on Wednesday.
"The passage of this bill is a victory in our campaign to protect our people, especially the young and the poor, from the ill effects of smoking and excessive drinking," Health Secretary Enrique Ona said in a press statement.
"With the expected approval of the sin tax bill, our health care system will be getting the badly needed funds to make Kalusugan Pangkalahatan or universal health care a reality for our people," he added.
Ona said the revenues from the sin tax bill will be used to fund the expansion of PhilHealth enrollment to the second poorest 20% of the Filipino population.
He said part of the revenues will also be used to assist tobacco farmers and workers in shifting to alternative crops.
The health secretary also lauded Senator Franklin Drilon, acting Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and bill sponsor, for his dedication in passing Senate Bill 3299 re-indexing the excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol products.
The measure, a priority of the Aquino administration, is expected to go to the bicameral conference committee to reconcile it with the version of the House of Representatives, which was approved earlier this year.