Senate appoints Recto, Marcos to sin tax bicam

THE Senate on Monday appointed Senators Ralph Recto and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., to the bicameral conference committee that will thresh-out disagreeing provisions in the sin tax bill.

Aside from Recto and Marcos, the Senate also included in the panel Senators Franklin Drilon, Sergio Osmena, Panfilo Lacson, Alan Peter Cayetano and Pia Cayetano.

Earlier, at the University of the Philippines –Philippine General Hospital,   more than 33 medical and health organization led by the Philippine Medical Associations including their sub-societies signed a manifesto calling for the inhibition of Recto and Marcos.

“Because of the actions taken by Senators Recto and Marcos jr., we therefore call for their immediate inhibition from the approaching bicameral proceedings on sin tax reform. We strongly believe that by championing the commercial and other vested interest of the tobacco industry in the passage of the sin tax, the two senators have compromised the welfare of the Filipino people,” the manifesto said.

“We strongly urged the two senators to restrain themselves from participating in the bicameral proceedings for the passage of a genuine sin tax bill. May our call for their inhibition be heard for the health of the Filipino people,” the manifesto concluded.

Also earlier,  Enrile denied the allegations that there are pressure to include  Recto and  Marcos   in the bicameral conference committee as opposed by health advocates.

“Pressure? Hindi pressure yun. Alam mo, sa akin, dapat lang na yung representative nung mga bumoto sa no, dalawa yun, they are the minority in this issue. They voted against it. Now, yung mga may interest doon tungkol sa tobacco, I think I would suggest that Senator Marcos be included,” Enrile said.

“In the case of Senator Recto, since his version of the bill was set aside, he has a right to also be included so that he can see to it that what we have agreed upon is really going to push through. May consensus yung ginawa namin dito. Ngayon, in order to protect the interest of the majority, we can make the membership to seven,’ the Senate chief added.

For his part, Recto said health advocates should not be apprehensive on his inclusion in the bicameral conference committee because he was tasked to ensure retention of Senate’s amendments on specific allocations for health programs.

“I think the version that we came out in the Senate is better now. I think the most important there is the earmarking for the health particularly for hospitals. For me that is the key,” Recto said.

Meanwhile, both Enrile and Recto also supported the call for an open public hearing of the panel’s meeting.  Marcos was absent during Wednesday session.

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