Beverage industry exec says soft drinks comprise only 2% of Filipino diet
Solon seeks 10% tax on soft drinks
MANILA -- In an attempt to curb obesity and lower the risk of diabetes among Filipinos, a lawmaker is seeking to impose a 10% tax on soft drinks.
Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing filed House Bill 3365, which seeks to impose a 10% ad valorem tax on soft drinks.
Aside from health reasons, Suansing, through the bill, seeks additional revenue for the country.
In an interview on radio DZMM, the lawmaker admitted that she originally filed the bill to help generate income for her province after typhoon 'Yolanda' hit the country.
The Department of Health (DOH) also suggested that funds generated from the bill, once passed, can be used to support indigent diabetic patients.
Suansing argued that perceived negative effects of soft drinks and sugar-sweetened drinks have long been established.
This perception has also led the Department of Education (DepEd) to ban the selling of soft drinks in all public school canteens.
Suansing added that they are also thinking of putting health warnings on soft drinks and sugar-sweetened drinks.
In the same interview, Atty. Adel Tamano, who represents the Beverage Industry Association of the Philippines, expressed his opposition to the proposed bill.
Tamano explained that the bill is anti-poor, since the product to be taxed can be considered as a basic good.
"Ang tina-tax po natin dito ay hindi luxury good, yung mga bagay na binibili ng mayaman. Ang softdrinks at ang mga beverages po na may asukal, these are bought by average Filipinos. Mga taxi drivers, jeepney drivers, mga pangkaraniwan na workers, they use it to get energy. And, it’s a basic good. At the end of the day, pagkain ito," Tamano said.
"Mahirap intindihin na bakit sa dami ng pwede mong i-tax, ang itatax mo ay isang basic good, na hindi lamang binibili ng mga pangkaraniwan na mga Pilipino, there are so many Filipinos who are reliant on the industry," he added.
According to Tamano, the bill will affect the livelihood of 1.2 million sari-sari store owners all over the country, as well as the thousands of employees working in the beverage industry.
"Pag-usapan na lang po natin ang mga sari-sari store owners. We have 1.2 [million] sari-sari store owners all over the Philippines, at malaking bahagi po ng kabuhayan nila, will be based on the selling of softdrinks and sugar-sweetened drinks. So kung patawan mo ng tax 'to, tatamaan sila."
'PROMOTE MODERATION INSTEAD'
Tamano pointed out that consumption of soft drinks should not be blamed solely for increasing cases of obesity and diabetes in the country, as it comprises only 2% of the Filipino diet, based on a study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI).
"Kung ang dapat pag-usapan ay obesity at health, hindi naman makatarungan na ang titirahin mo lang ay softdrinks, dapat tingnan din natin yung iba," Tamano added.
Tamano also opposed putting health warnings on soft drinks, adding that instead of focusing on sugar and soft drinks, it is better to educate Filipinos about the benefits of a balanced, healthy diet.
"All kinds of food, kahit anong klase, should be taken in moderation," he said.
"Hindi lang natin dapat pag-usapan ang asukal, dapat din nating pag-usapan ang asin, pag-usapan din natin yung taba o fats," Tamano added.