Solons seek taxes on sugar-sweetened soft drinks

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 05 2016 01:57 PM | Updated as of Jul 06 2016 04:41 AM

MANILA - Two congressmen of the 17th Congress have re-filed a proposal to impose taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages to generate additional revenues for the government as well as promote public health and wellness.

Sultan Kudarat Rep. Horacio Suansing Jr. and Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing is proposing House Bill 292, which seeks to impose an excise tax of P10 on sugar-sweetened beverages per liter of volume capacity.

The proposed measure comes as President Rodrigo Duterte, Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial and health organizations like the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) expressed support for taxes on sugared drinks and junk food.

According to health advocates, these products are among the main culprits in the increasing cases of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and gall stones.

During the 16th Congress, the House Committee on Ways and Means chaired by Marikina City Rep. Romero Quimbo approved the proposal then embodied in House Bill 3365 authored by Rep. Estrellita Suansing, but it did not reach plenary discussions due to lack of material time.

According to Suansing, studies have shown that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages increases the risk of developing health problems such as blood sugar disorders, obesity, diabetes, and other related diseases like bone fractures, hyperacidity, tooth decay and heart problems.

Suansing cited estimates of the Department of Health (DOH) that the government spent P50 billion for diabetes-related diseases from 2009 and 2012 based on PhilHealth claims. For diabetes alone, the DOH estimates the government spends about P5 billion annually.

House Bill 292 defines sugar-sweetened beverage as “a non-alcoholic beverage that contains caloric sweeteners/added sugar or artificial/non-caloric sweetener. It may be in liquid or solid mixture, syrup or concentrates that are added to water or other liquids to make a drink.”

Sugar-sweetened beverages include soft drinks, sodas, fruit drinks, sports drinks sweetened tea and coffee drinks and all non-alcoholic beverages, among others.