MANILA, Philippines - Senator Ralph Recto on Friday said he is willing to make changes on the Senate version of the sin tax measure.
Recto, chairman of the Senate ways and means committee, said he is open to suggestions from other senators on the sin tax bill.
Asked if he is open to compromise, Recto told ANC, "Of course, because that is a democratic process... My job as chairman is to make a recommendation , then I will hear the position of my colleagues formally on the floor."
The Palace expressed displeasure at the Senate ways and means committee report on the sin tax bill, saying it was a "watered-down version." The Senate version would generate P15 billion in new taxes from tobacco and alcohol products, way below the P60 billion initially targeted by the government.
Recto said the committee report on the sin tax is already a compromise between those who want higher and lower tax rates.
"Listening to all the stakeholders, listening to my colleagues in the committee those who attended having deliberations with them before I wrote report. I know some want higher and some want lower, I'm coming in the middle," he said.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who authored the sin tax bill, had said she was "gobsmacked" by the version approved by the Senate ways and means committee.
“It bears no recognizable resemblance to my bill. It is an abject surrender to the very rich and very powerful tobacco and alcohol lobby... Under the Santiago bill, government will raise P60 billion for the first year. By contrast, the Recto bill will earn only P15 billion. The foregone revenue could go to universal health care, such as more hospitals, rural health units and barangay health stations,” she said.