MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang expressed disappointment over the "watered down version" of the sin tax bill, referring to Senator Ralph Recto's committee report on the measure.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said it reduces the revenues that the government expects to collect in order to fund health care.
The Palace is hoping that "it can still be remedied" when Congress tackles the measure during the bicameral conference.
"The watered down version reduced substantially the revenues that we hope, we expect…to collect. Certainly, we hope that it can still be remedied in the bicam. We thank Senator Ralph Recto's efforts to come out with a version but…it doesn't achieve the amount of revenues we are hope to collect based on our version," Lacierda said.
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima also dismissed Recto’s version. In a separate statement, he said: "We thank Sen. Ralph Recto for his efforts but they fall short of what we need."
Health Secretary Enrique Ona, in another statement, said: “To say the least, I'm very very disappointed with the report.” He said the successful implementation of the government’s Universal Health Care program is anchored on the real sin tax bill’s passing.
Recto, who heads the Committee on Ways and Means, presented on Wednesday his version restructuring the sin tax measure.
He said the new tax regime on cigarettes could yield between P9.8 billion to P14.8 billion in additional revenues while alcohol would contribute by as much as P5.2 billion to P7 billion in the first year or in 2013.
He said the DOF-sponsored versions would result to a “loss of P300 million or a gain of P11.5 billion for both cigarette and alcohol.”
Civil society groups also lambasted Recto and asked that he resign as chairman of the committee.
In another statement, the Action for Economic Reform called the Recto version as the “Recto Morris Report”.
“Civil society is angry and rejects this committee report,” said AER coordinator Filomeno Sta. Ana III. “This report shows that he is defying the administration, he is defying the Department of Health, he is defying the Department of Finance, and he is defying President Aquino - who has considered this a priority bill.”
“This is not a committee report. A committee report should reflect what happened in the committee. It should reflect the deliberations, inputs and ideas presented in the committee. This report did not. We are demanding for his resignation.” – with reports from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News