MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang clarified today that President Benigno Aquino III's call for solidarity among lawmakers is not equivalent to a solicitation of support for the administration's version of the sin tax bill.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said he still has to ask the President if a meeting was held between him and Senator Ralph Recto, who is sponsoring a version of the bill which the Palace called a "watered-down version."
He said the administration will continue to push for a measure that will increase revenues and fund the government's universal health care coverage.
"We will leave it to Senator Recto. We have already laid out the reasons why we are pushing for our sin tax measure. We have already laid out that this is a health issue; that the revenues that we're going to collect will be able to fund sufficiently our universal health care coverage as well as the various health centers that we proposed," said Lacierda.
Recto, who heads the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, presented on Wednesday his version restructuring the sin tax measure.
He said his version 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 Department of Finance-sponsored versions would result to a “loss of P300 million or a gain of P11.5 billion for both cigarette and alcohol.”