WITH the glaring negative effects of plastic use to the environment, two bills were filed in the House of Representatives that seeks to impose a P10 excise tax on plastic bag use.
House Bill 8523, authored by Sultan Kudarat 2nd Representative Horacio Suansing Jr., proposes “to impose excise tax on plastic bags used in supermarkets, malls, shops, stores, sales outlets and other similar establishments.”
“By resorting to this levy, it is hoped that Filipinos find environment-friendly alternatives to plastic bags in going about the needs in their daily lives,” Suansing stated in the explanatory note.
But for Robert Go, president of Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) Cebu, it is an overkill.
“It is not necessary because it is being implemented by the local government unit and it is more effective. The best way is to really educate the consumers about not using plastics because consumers look for that plastic bags,” Go said.
Go called on the local government units (LGUs) to look for alternatives to plastic bags and to maintain a more aggressive stance in the campaign for less use of plastics.
“The government should look for alternatives to plastic bag and bring down the cost of craft paper bags. Give incentives to craft bags manufacturing so it is not too expensive. We also educate the public on the use of recycled bags or eco-friendly bags,” he said.
Another measure, House Bill 8558, authored by Representative John Marvin Nieto, stated that an excise tax of P10 shall be imposed on establishments whose gross receipts in the preceding year reached P100,000 or for newly registered businesses with a capitalization of at least P100,000.
Go said that it is unfair to penalize big establishments since stores along the streets in the city are also obliged to follow the “no plastic” days.
“Penalizing the big establishment only is unfair because it is more blatant in the street. Every store in Cebu with the schedule of “no plastic” day, they follow the schedule. We cannot always penalize and penalize. There should be equivalent incentive where they encourage use of craft bags or eco-friendly bags or alternatives,” he said.
Sustainable shopping lifestyle
For Johanna Marie Frejoles, a blogger who advocates for the use of eco-bags, the filing of the bill is a welcome development but she wants that eradication of single-use plastics be pushed.
“I use my own bags whenever I shop so personally, this bill is in line with my values. I believe that this bill can effectively change consumer behavior. But I have to agree that the LGUs should look for alternatives,” she said.
Frejoles admitted that plastics are still needed but said that it should not be the single-use ones.
“An alternative would be improving the quality and thickness of plastic bags so it can be reused. This is popular in the United Kingdom and you can even exchange old bags for a new one if it cannot be used anymore. What we use today are the single-use plastics that we throw away and it is not encouraging a sustainable shopping lifestyle,” she said. (JOB)