InterAksyon.com means BUSINESS
MANILA - (UPDATED 6:37 p.m.) Senators on Monday cast doubt on whether President Benigno Aquino III's sin tax reform could be passed into law, confirming that his priority revenue measure faces an uphill battle.
The proposed legislation that seeks to hike the excise tax rates on cigarettes and alcohol products is one of the President's priority bills that international credit rating agencies are anchoring their upgrade on.
"Sa sin tax, maipasa sana ito sa madaling panahon. Mababawasan ang bisyo, madadagdagan ang pondo ng pamahalaan," Aquino said during his 3rd State-of-the Nation Address.
Lawmakers, however, said the hike in sin taxes may have a hard time gaining support in the Senate.
"Any form of taxes is unpopular, especially on certain kinds of taxes that affect production, for example on cigarettes. It also affects our farmers. Definitely, one way or the other, if you challenge the status quo, it will be an uphill battle," Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano told InterAksyon.com
This, however, does not mean that the priority bill will fail to hurdle Congress.
"It will just need a lot of fine-tuning," Cayetano, who belongs to the Nacionalista Party, said.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada agreed that the sin tax bill, once it reaches the Senate, will have to be deliberated "extensively."
"On my part, what about the plight of our tobacco farmers? Who will suffer the most? Is it our farmers? Who will gain the most? Is it the importers of cigarettes? Kasi kelangan balansehin natin," Estrada, who belongs to the Partido ng Masang Pilipino, said.
Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., who hails from the tobacco-planting Ilocos region, said he would confront the revenue measure head on during deliberations, as this would destroy the industry.
"Sasalubungin ko yang sin taxes pati sa budget para malaman natin kung ano ang kanilang iniisip," Marcos said.
Despite the opposition from fellow lawmakers, Sen. Franklin Drilon of the ruling Liberal Party, said sin tax reform must be put in place because of the health agenda and the resources needed to support universal healthcare.
"Second, it would mean an upgrading of our credit rating. Which means we can have lower interest rates on our loans, therefore, we will use resources that would be freed from these lower interest rates for our health sector," Drilon said.
Sen. Manuel Villar, who chairs the Nacionalista Party, said the bill could be passed by December. "May coalition kaming NP-LP eh. I suppose that includes the legislative agenda of the President," said Villar, adding that the ruling coalition has the numbers to push for the passage of the reform bill.
Earlier, Sen. Ralph Recto, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and a Liberal Party member, said the sin tax reform bill will face rough sailing since the hike on tobacco and alcohol product taxes would be passed on to consumers.
He said it would be difficult to justify this new tax measure to fellow lawmakers because of the size of the revenue take expected.
“When we increase taxes we are thinking of why. Where are we going to spend the money? Paano pakikinabangan ng taumbyayan? Mahirap sabihin na kaya natin tinataas para ang tao di manigarilyo. Eh bakit nyo sinasabi kokolekta tayo ng napakalaki?” Recto had said.
InterAksyon.com means BUSINESS