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MANILA, Philippines - Make your own report, don't use mine.
This was the appeal of Sen. Ralph Recto to his colleagues at the Upper House after he quit his post as chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means amid mounting allegations that he had watered down the version of the proposed Sin Tax measure.
Recto said that despite drawing flak, he would stick to his version of the legislation but senators should not use his committee report on the Sin Tax reform bill, which he said was his "intellectual property."
“I am not abandoning my position, and I will provide inputs, but I will respectfully request to the floor not to use my report, which is a product of the arduous public hearing, which I wrote,” Recto said on Wednesday.
“It is my intellectual property, it is the product of my own mind, why use my report....Let them write their own report, but not use my report,” he added.
Recto made the statement after Sen. Franklin Drilon, acting chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, insinuated that the panel might use Recto's report.
On Wednesday, Sen. Francis Pangilinan supported Drilon's position and said that the committee could still use Recto's controversial report.
"I think the position of the acting chairman is that it will save us a lot of time if we just proceed from the report and then do the necessary changes during the floor debates," said Pangilinan.
But Recto said Drilon should write his own report from the voluminous records of the public hearing that Recto had conducted.
He added that instead of using his report as a starting point for the plenary debates on the Sin Tax bill, Drilon could either present Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago or the Department of Finance's version.
“Just a click of a mouse, they can print the Santiago version or the DOF version. But, still I will fight for reasonable and fair version of the law,” Recto said.
In the DOF version, the government wants to generate P60 billion in projected revenues on all sin products. But, when it was reported out in the House plenary, the projected revenue was decreased to P30 billion.
A P60-billion tax revenue from sin products is also being proposed in Santiago's version of the bill.
“Gamitin nila ang report na gusto nila, ang P60 billion. Then, let’s start with the DOF version, saka natin alamin kung makatotohanan ang P60 bilyon," Recto said.
[Let them use the report that they like, the P60 billion. Then let's start with the DOF version and then let us find out if the P60 billion is realistic.]
He said that in the said version, "they wanted to reduce [the number of] smokers, but they do not want to trim down alcohol drinkers."
He also warned that if the DOF or the Santiago version becomes law, it would result in huge job cuts in the tobacco industry.
“Aside from killing the local industries, and giving the opportunity to two big tobacco companies as the leading and primary producers, there will be massive displacements in factories and allied sectors,” Recto said.