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DOH dismayed over sin tax committee report

Posted On 2012 Oct 17
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School children simultaneously wash their hands during the fifth year of celebrating Global Handwashing Day in Taguig city, south of Manila October 10, 2012. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Department of Health (DOH) is dismayed over Senator Ralph Recto’s “watered down” committee report on the sin tax bill.

Civil society and health advocates, meantime, called Recto’s committee report on the Sin Tax Bill the “Ralph Morris Bill.”

“This is not a Recto report, it’s a Phillip Morris or a Recto Morris report! Recto has declared war, and war we will engage him!” said Men Sta. Ana of the Action for Economic Reforms (AER).

Sta. Ana even called for Recto’s resignation as chair of the ways and means committee. “We will be demanding his resignation from his committee. He ignored the Santiago bill, Lacson bill, the minutes of the lower House [report], isinantabi lahat! Binabastos ang proseso sa committee. Para saan pa ang hearing?”

Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Enrique Ona also did not hide his dismay. “I’m very disappointed with the report. [The] Sin tax [bill] must be credibly passed. Our universal health care will suffer,” he said.

Ona joined UP Philippine General Hospital (PGH) doctors, civil society and health advocates in decrying the “Ralph Morris” report by drowning different brands of cigarettes in water.

Joann Latuja, senior consultant of advocacy of economic reforms UP School of Economics, presented what she called the “Rectofied committee report” in comparison to the Phillip Morris proposal and the Santiago bill.

Latuja said the recto committee report targets a revenue of only P15 billion compared to the Santiago bill which targets P60 billion.

Latuja added that in the Recto report, Marlboro will cost around P50 per pack or 2.50 per stick, and Fortune around P30 per pack or 1.50 per pack  by 2020.

Malayo po sa gusto namin na P60-70 per pack or P3-5 pesos per stick by 2014,” she said.

Latuja added that it totally ignores health objectives, and that this will make cigarettes in the Philippines still one of the cheapest in the world.

“More of our young and poor will be lured into smoking addiction,” she said. “More Filipinos will die!”

She added that Recto’s version favors big tobacco and is anti-health and anti-Filipino. (MNS)

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