House to oppose Recto's version of sin tax bill-A A +A
Saturday, October 13, 2012
THE House of Representatives vowed to oppose the "watered down" version of the sin tax bill proposed by Senate ways and means committee chairman Senator Ralph Recto.
Recto received criticism from his colleagues and several health advocates for recommending a sin tax measure that would raise only P15 billion to P20 billion in government revenues. The amount is half of the expected P31 billion from the House version.
"Recto's proposal is watered down. We will stick to the House version," Western Samar Representative Mel Senen Sarmiento, one of the authors, said in a text message.
"The campaign of the government for good health and universal health care will fail if we adopt the Senate version. We should not back down on our position," Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, chairman of the House committee on public information, added.
Recto's proposal uses a three-tier tax rate for tobacco and alcohol products while Malacanang is pushing for a uniform tax rate. The government's original proposal seeks to increase revenues to P60 billion. The revenue will be used for healthcare projects.
Recto said his committee's version of the bill is "realistic." He said high taxes on sin products could lead to smuggling.
Davao City Representative Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, said that although his colleagues reject Recto version of the sin tax bill, he would rather wait for the final version of the Senate.
"The committee report will still undergo debates and perhaps amendments at the plenary," Ungab said.
House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III also urged senators to scrutinize the Recto version of the bill.
"Health of the majority of the poor trumps revenue anytime. It is not a question of revenues, it is a question of health," he said.
The House of Representatives has already found an ally in Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago who earlier called on university students and social media netizens to join the war against the committee version of the sin tax bill, which she calls "the death star bill."
"I am gobsmacked - speechless with amazement - at the committee report. It bears no recognizable resemblance to my bill. It is an abject surrender to the very rich and very powerful tobacco and alcohol lobby," Santiago, whose proposal aims to raise revenues to P60 billion, said earlier. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)