Miriam wants P60-B on sin tax bill to avoid 240 deaths daily

SENATOR Miriam Defensor-Santiago  said she wanted to pass her Sin tax bill with P60 billion projected revenues to avoid 240 deaths daily among Filipino smokers with P200 billion health costs to government.

In a radio interview, Santiago said she filed Senate bill NO. 3249 aimed to amend to impose excise tax on alcohol and cigarettes, which she called as “silent epidemic” that kills more Filipinos than in war or accidents in the streets.

“Layunin ng Palasyo na kumita ng pera na kailangan ng gobyerno, pero pinamalaking layunin dito ng mga doctor at akin din  na mapigilan ang pagkamatay ng maraming Filipino sanhi ng paninigarilyo,” she explained.

According to Santiago that based on the studies by  the Department of Health,  and World Health Organization (WHO)’s office in Manila,  10 Filipinos died every hour, or 240 deaths incurred every year due to smoking alone.

“Imagine, every hour, 10 Filipinos died. Anong oras na ba ngayon, alas diyes na, mamayang alas onse, sampung Filipino na ang namatay. Kaya sa isang araw, 240 Filipino ang namamatay, kaya sa loob ng isang taon, mahigit 75,000  Filipino ang namamatay. Iyon ang nakatatakot na hindi alam ng sambayanan,” Santiago said.

“Mas marami ang namamatay sa paninigarilyo kaysa giyera o namamatay sa lansangan dahil ang Pilipinas ang may pinakamababang presyo ng sigarilyo at alak kaya tayo din ang may pinamataas na bilang ng gumagamit ang sigarilyo at alak,” she added.

Santiago’s bill aimed to   amend National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 as amended by Republic Act No. 9334, in order to institute urgent needs for reform on excise tax on such products to achieve these goals:
(a) Deter young people from smoking and drinking alcohol, and protect them from the lifetime consequences of smoking and alcohol abuse;
(b) Reduce the consumption of cigarettes and alcohol, thus decreasing the health and health care costs of tobacco and alcohol use; and
(c) Finance a universal health care program.

She said, her version aimed to raise P30 billion for tobacco and P30 billion for alcohol regardless of prices in the market.

DOH, WHO recommended

Santiago said that although her version of the sin tax bill was apparently a copy version of Malacanang, but argued that Senate Bill 3249 imposing specific tax on sin products, was highly recommended by doctor’s organization, the Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Ang version namin ng Malacanang ay base iyan sa mapakalakas na rekomendasyon ng lahat ng organisasyon ng mga doctor sa Pilipinas. Kaya natural lang na isulong ito ng health secretary at lalo na ng World Health Organization (WHO) na may opisina dito sa Maynila,” she said.

Santiago said aside from these recommendations, the country also signed the international framework for Tobacco Control initiated by the United Nations in 2005.

“In 2005, nag-sponsor ako sa Senado ng Framework for Tobacco Control,  naipasa namin iyon , so we are bound to comply with that to reduce the number of smokers in the country,” she said.

Raise excise tax to reduce consumption

Santiago believed that when we raised the excise tax collected on sin products, there will be a reciprocal tendency to reduce the number of smoking and alcohol drinkers, which was the conclusion of various studies.

“Kailangann kasi itaas natin ang presyo upang maibaba ang gumagamit, itataas ng presyo ng sigarilyo at alak hanggang 2015.  Halimbawa ang buwis mo sa sigarilyo ay magiging P30 bawat pakete,  may be with P20 production cost,  dadagdagan ng P30  excise tax kaya magiging mahal, halos madodoble ang presyo.

“Gagawin ito sa 2013, sa 2014, sa 2015, pagkatapos pagkatapos ng limang taon, itataas na pa rin para sa pagtaas ng presyo ng sambayanan, itataas ang buwis na ito kasi isa itong excise tax,” she explained.

Santiago said under her bill, the excise taxing system will be used, which a form of taxation not only aimed to collect revenue, but also to reduce consumption.

“Ang excise tax ay gusto ng lipunan na maihinto na ang ginagawang iyon. Kaya  pinapatawan natin sila ng pinakamataas ng buwis upang mapigilan ang pagdami at mapahinto ang pagkamatay ng mga Filipino,” she said.

Santiago further explained that there are two system in taxation, the specific tax, which collect unitary revenue regardless of the price in the market,, and ad valorem tax, which based on the price of the product in the market.

“On Ad valorem, kung mababa ang presyo, mababa ang tax mo, kaya ang pinipili natin dito sa ating bill ay specific, pareho-pareho lang ang tax nya, walang pababa at walang pataas, kasi pareho-pareho lamang sila na pumapatay sa mga Filipino,”  Santiago argued.

Corruption on ad valorem

Santiago said that she chooses to use the specific taxation in order to eradicate also corruption in the collection and payment of revenues since tobacco companies can manipulate the production cost and pricing in the market in using ad valorem, and trick the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on amount of sales.

“Lalo pang may korapsiyon kung ad valorem dahil dadayain iyan ng  mga kompanya dahil ipalalabas nila na mura ang sigarilyong ginawa nila, kaya mura din ang ipapataw na buwis.,” she said.

“Tapos kapag ibinenta nila sa publiko, itataas nila ang presyo. Kaya puwede nilang suhulan ang BIR na hindi sundin ang tunay na buwis, na siyang nagiging sanhi ng korapsiyon,” she added.

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