MANILA - Sen. Francis Escudero on Tuesday said the House of Representatives could only either adopt or reject the Senate's version of the cigarette tax bill as the session of Congress is set to close.
“They passed a different version. The only option is for the House to either accept or reject it,” Escudero said.
In an interview on ANC's Headstart, Escudero said the Senate version of the bill would be forwarded to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, the last session of both houses.
"Wala nang ibang tyansa o pagkakataon kung babaguhin pa nila 'yun so ang choice nila basically take it or leave it dahil iisang araw na lamang ang sesyon ng Senado at Kongreso. Ito na ang huling araw, wala nang sesyon bukas dahil holiday bukas at huling araw na rin," said Escudero.
(There is no other chance to change it. So, their choice is basically to take it or leave it because we only have one more day of session. This is the last day. There will be no more session tomorrow because it’s a holiday.)
If the House of Representatives does not adopt the Senate version, Escudero then said “they start at square one in the new Congress.”
On Monday, the Senate approved a bill raising excise taxes on tobacco products and imposing duties on vape products.
This came nearly a week since President Rodrigo Duterte certified the proposal as urgent.
Voting 20-0, senators approved Senate Bill No. 2233 which raises excise taxes on cigarettes by P45 per pack by 2020, P50 per pack by 2021, P55 per pack by 2022, and P60 per pack by 2023.
It also places a P10 tax for every 10 milliliters of vaping liquids.
The Senate version will also no longer follow the old law that gives a share of tax imposed on cigarettes to tobacco-producing provinces.
"Lahat ng pondong malilikom ilalagay na talaga sa Universal Health Care Act," he said.
(All funds collected from this would be used for the Universal Health Care Act.)