Miriam calls for war vs Recto’s sin tax bill

By Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Oct 11 2012 04:27 PM | Updated as of Oct 12 2012 04:17 AM

Miriam: Young Pinoys will die under ‘death star bill’

MANILA - Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Thursday called on students and social media netizens to wage war against Senator Ralph Recto’s version of the sin tax bill.

“I am gobsmacked – speechless with amazement – at the committee report.  It bears no recognizable resemblance to my bill.  It is an abject surrender to the very rich and very powerful tobacco and alcohol lobby,” she said in a statement.

She called Recto’s committee version as a “death star bill.” She said half of the 25 million Filipino youth will die if they continue smoking. The number refers only to smokers aged 18 years old.

Santiago earlier filed a bill that restructures taxes on cigarettes and alcohol for a revenue earning of P60 billion in the first year of implementation.

Recto, who chairs the ways and means committee, came out with a version on Wednesday. His version of the tax regime on cigarettes is projected to yield between P9.8 billion to P14.8 billion in additional revenues while alcohol would contribute between P5.2 billion to P7 billion in the first year or in 2013.

“When cigarettes and liquor are cheap, more people will use them. The Philippines already has one of the lowest prices of cigarettes and alcohol in Southeast Asia. That’s why for every hour, 10 Filipinos die from tobacco use. Smoking causes 240 deaths every single day,” Santiago said.

This is why her version imposes a bigger tax of P30 per pack of cigarettes by 2015

“My bill imposes a unitary tax system, as recommended by the World Health Organization. The Recto bill uses a 3-tier tax rate for tobacco and alcohol products, making them cheaper and thereby encouraging their use,” she said.

She said her version uses a simpler unitary tax system. A multi-tier system, on the other hand, engages corruption and abuses.

She said Recto’s version is far from the prescribed provision in the “Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” wherein the tax on tobacco should be 70 percent of the price of the product. The treaty aims to reduce number of smokers to 25% from 28% by 2014.

Santiago added her bill will save 4.15 million smokers in the first year while the Recto bill will save only 2.93 million smokers.

She said she just signed Recto’s committee report, with an annotation: “Only for the purpose of getting the bill out to the plenary session.”

She said the fight will begin during debates on the Senate floor.