Flavier slams Recto for 'watered-down' sin taxes

Posted at 10/12/12 11:43 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Former Senator Juan Flavier, who was behind Department of Health’s “Yosi Kadiri” campaign in the 90s, criticized the modified sin tax bill in Senator Ralph Recto’s committee report.

Flavier said passing the modified sin tax bill just for the sake of passing it is futile.

“It’s not about passing a sin tax law. It is about passing a sin tax measure at the effective and proper rates. Otherwise, naglolokohan lang tayo,” he said in a press statement released Friday.

Flavier expressed dismay over the bill’s P15 billion sin tax proposal, way below the initial target of P60 billion.

He reminded his former colleagues that the sin tax aims to curb the rise in cancer cases in the country.

He added that aside from prioritizing the interests of the tobacco industry over the health of Filipinos, the “watered-down version” also places tobacco control measures at a stalemate.

“Kung gusto nila magpaloko, that's up to them. But I hope none of them looks to fooling our people as well,” the former senator said.

Flavier, the principal author of Republic Act 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act, said imposing higher taxes on cigarette products is justified because sin taxes were based on 1996 retail prices of tobacco products.

“The sin tax bill as originally proposed would have moved us forward. Recto's version keeps us all in the same place. There is also a preponderance of evidence worldwide that higher taxes achieve two things: they reduce the incidence of smoking by raising prices, and they raise more revenue that we can hopefully plow into healthcare. If you water down the rates, the twin benefits are diminished,” he said.

“Knowing how hard legislation is, it basically extends the status quo for years or at least until we have more progressive senators," he added.