MANILA - Malacañang confirmed that Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima apologized to Senator Ralph Recto over an alleged insinuation reportedly made by Presidential Legislative Liaison Office chief Manuel Mamba that senators had accepted bribes from tobacco companies.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacicerda read Purisima’s text statement:
“I, as lead Cabinet for this issue, apologized to Senator Recto for the misquotes and other statements that may be misinterpreted as unproductive.”
The Palace is willing to support a sin tax measure with a revenue target of P40 billion, lower than the original P60 billion.
“The position taken by the Department of Finance is that they prefer the original Department of Finance version. But, according to Secretary Purisima, they are willing to accept a lower amount of P40 billion provided that the other objectives of the bill such as the health and the WTO [World Trade Organization] issues are addressed,” Lacierda said.
“(If) you lower it down to P40 billion, the healthcare would extend a little bit. The coverage will extend a little bit longer than necessary. Certainly, if we’re able to get an amount that is preferred by the administration, it is a victory for the Filipino people,” he added.
The Palace dismissed the insinuation about a possible “Purisima-San Miguel alliance” stemming from lower taxes for beer on the House of Representatives’ version of the sin tax measure.
“We’ve tried to raise the level of public discourse in sin tax purely on its merits and not on descending into name-calling. We have not done it. We did not do it. So maybe some advocates were the ones who did it but certainly not the government officials,” Lacierda said.