MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino’s smoking habit will not get in the way of his support for the sin tax bill, which aims to raise revenues to fund the Aquino Administration's universal health care program, Malacañang said Friday.
Health advocates held a protest Friday morning at the Commission on Human Rights, challenging President Aquino to quit smoking in leading the support for the sin tax bill as a health measure.
Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte said the challenge should be addressed to the President, since smoking is a personal choice.
"Personal decision na po ng Pangulo 'yan 'pag ang pinag-uusapan po natin is 'yung pagku-quit po doon sa kanyang (smoking) habit. But allow us to reiterate that it does not in any way hamper the support of the administration for the sin tax bill" said Valte.
In expounding the administration's support to the bill, Valte said the teams from the Department of Finance and Department of Health will continue to work with other advocates to convince legislators on the importance of the sin tax measure that will provide for more coverage for the universal healthcare program.
Sge downplayed speculations that a rift may soon worsen between the Executive and the Legislative, when the sponsor of the bill, Senator Ralph Recto, took what Palace called a "watered-down version" of the sin tax bill.
Reports said the Bureau of Internal Revenue felt betrayed with what Recto did. "Alam po 'nung ating mga kasama sa BIR, sa DOF, sa DOH, eyes on the ballAnd while meron po silang mga ganitong naging pakiramdam, alam naman po natin na focused pa rin sila doon sa kanilang advocacy" said Valte.