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Mr Speaker.

I vote no to House Bill No. 5727.

This measure is essentially a revenue-raising measure sugar-coated with health considerations. The main objective of the bill is to raise additional revenues of P31 billion for the government. Bonus na lang po kung ito’y makakabawas sa paninigarilyo ng ating mamamayan. In fact, once passed, I suspect the government will not want to reduce tobacco and alcohol intake because that would mean lower revenues.

As a tax, this is a regressive tax that will hit the poor the most. It is a tax imposed not on the rich tobacco and alcohol companies or even their distributors and retailers, but on the consumer, most of whom come from the poor. Ang tatamaan po nito ay ang mga mahihirap.

As a tax, this is disadvantageous to our local producers – tobacco farmers, workers in the tobacco and alcohol factories, haulers, distributors, sari-sari store owners, takatak boys. It is a tax being imposed at the behest of foreign tobacco and alcohol monopolies and their supporters in the International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization. It seeks to remove whatever preferential treatment we have granted our Filipino entreprises. Para nating sinakal ang sarili nating lokal na industriya.

As a tax, this is an unecessary burden on the public. Why impose a new tax that will hit the poor and local industries when we have failed to collect some P180 billion in income taxes on professionals, P127 billion in customs duties due to smuggling, and some P50 billion in fiscal incentives to favored entities, mostly foreign companies? If we want to raise revenues, let us improve tax efficiency, not impose additional and regressive taxes.

On the health issue, if we really want our people to stop smoking, let us start with the President leading by example. Maybe it is time the President quit smoking so others will follow, just as it is time for him to sign a waiver on his bank accounts. Or perhaps we should start with passing the picture-based warnings on cigarette packs, a bill which I have authored since the 14th Congress and which has not moved an inch in the 15th Congress. Let us conduct a more aggressive campaign against smoking. Ibangon natin sa hukay si Yosi Kadiri. More education, more enlightenmentI and an aggressive campaign to ban smoking – these would be more effective in curbing smoking than an P11 hike in the price of a pack of cigarettes.

Huwag na ho natin pag-usapan ang pag-inom. The taxes as proposed will simply not deter drinking. It will, in fact, simply encourage the consumption of imported brands.

I know my vote will not sit well with my friends in the health sector, some of whom are in the gallery tonight. But I have to be true to my advocacy for lower taxes on the poor and for preferrential treatment for our local enterprises.

All things considered, this is a regressive tax we can do without. It is for this reason, Mr. Speaker, that I vote no to the measure.#

Delivered in plenary June 6, 2012

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3 thoughts on “Explanation of Vote of Rep. Teddy Casiño on House Bill 5727 or An Act Restructuring the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco Products

  1. Congressman, tax and consequently higher prices is one of the proven and more effective ways of tobacco control. We have one of the lowest prices in the WORLD. The poor spend more for tobacco than for health or education. These prices CAN make them stop and use the money to buy food. If it doesn’t, it can make them smoke less. And both of those are better for them than a lifelong addiction to affordable cigarettes. Dr. Tony Dans, in his presentation to the Senate, confirmed that education is not a good strategy. It is still so normal that the credibility of educators advocating tobacco control just doesn’t work half as well as other strategies. The ones that work (and these claims are backed up by research) are higher taxes, graphic health warnings, a comprehensive ad ban and more and more smoke free areas. We commend you for filing the GHW bill and hope you can be a champion of it even as we regret this vote (we need not hold it against you because it passed the house, although we hope next time you will fight for even higher). Perhaps the GHW bill can still be fought for? Or maybe an amended bill calling for plain packs? http://www.ashaust.org.au/lv3/action_plainpack.htm

  2. Oh, and considering this product (local or foreign) would kill one out of two of its loyal users, don’t you think we have to think about whether there is a difference between the two and that protecting one means you are protecting a company that causes the deaths of its customers? And that our farmers and workers in this industry should be helped (with allocations from this tax) to find other livelihood, to produce food, in a hurry? Seems to me a “livelihood” in tobacco is a misnomer.

  3. Pingback: Bayan Muna’s Sin Tax position « ipatluna

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