MANILA, Philippines - Doctors trooped to the Senate today to meet with Senator Ralph Recto in an attempt to persuade him to change his mind about the sin tax reform bill.
Nine doctors from the Philippine College of Physicians, including former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, are pushing for higher taxes on tobacco products for better revenue generation as well as protect the health of consumers.
Recto’s 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.
Stakeholders, including the Palace, are not happy with the so-called “watered down” version, however.
In a separate interview with dzMM, Cabral said Recto’s version is far from the estimated output from the version of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.
"Kung ano 'yung hinihingi dun sa bersyon ni Senator Santiago na makaka-generate ng P60 billion additional income para sa ating pamahalaan at makakabawas ng mga bumibili ng sigarilyo lalo na sa kabataan at mahihirap ay 'yun ang gusto naming mangyari."
While the revenues that can be generated from both versions can be put to debate, Cabral said the bill is paramount in decreasing the number of smoking-related illnesses.
"Kaming mga doktor, klaro sa amin kung ano yung pakay namin at ito ay bawasan yung mga naninigarilyo at bawasan yung mga sakit na dulot ng sigarilyo."
She said Recto will not earn her vote in case he runs for re-election in 2016. "Tayo ay hindi mga mambabatas, tayo ay mga advocate. Kung hindi nila gagawin ito, e alam na namin kung ano ang gagawin namin." – with reports from Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News; and dzMM