Health groups see rise in number of smokers next year if proposed tax increase on cigarettes fail

admin   •   November 20, 2017   •   5816

MANILA, Philippines — Studies conducted by several health groups reveal the Philippines has the cheapest prices of cigarettes in the world.

If to be compared with other countries, a pack of cigarette in the Philippines cost not more than a dollar and can be bought easily.

“In the Philippines, it’s less than a dollar or a dollar 50 pesos. In other countries, Singapore it’s nine dollars, Australia, it’s 15 dollars but people are still smoking. But we protect the poor and the very young who are the ones who cannot afford higher tobacco taxes,” said Department of Health (DOH) former Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean Ubial.

With this, a number of health groups and doctors have expressed concern over the possible rise in the number of Filipino smokers in the country.

They estimated that 200,000 more Filipinos will add to the current number of smokers by 2018.

And within six years, the health experts said it may further rise to a million if the government fails to approve the proposed imposition of more taxes on tobacco products.

Senator Manny Pacquiao’s Senate Bill 1599 or the act raising the excise tax on tobacco products aims to increase the prices of each pack of cigarettes to 60 pesos, while Senator JV Ejercito seeks an increase of 90 pesos per cigarette pack.

The group Action on Smoking Health (ASH) is in favor of the said proposals.

ASH said higher prices of cigarettes may help Filipinos to stop smoking, especially the youth.

“It should be single tax rate. They should apply a single tax rate for all. When the prices of cigarettes are cheap or expensive, the effect is the same. You will get ill or die because of cigarettes,” said Ash Executive Director Dr. Maricar Limpin.

A group of doctors and the former secretary of the Department of Health is also in favor of increasing the tax rates for tobacco products especially since it will help improve the revenue collection of the government.

The health experts said that the government might allocate the additional amount it can collect from the tobacco excise tax to the universal health care program for Filipinos.

“In 2012, they stopped 3 million people from beginning smoking just by signing a bill. They prevented 30, 000 deaths in that span. something the entire medical profession cannot do and so the power of this bill is really very important and we need to realize that enable to push for it hard. The higher the tax, the more lives we save,” said Sin Tax Coalition convenor Dr. Antonio Dans.

The proposed laws seeking to increase the tax rates on tobacco products filed by senators Manny Pacquiao and JV Ejercito are still pending in the Senate.

The senators are hoping that the said proposals will advance in Congress at the soonest possible time. — Aiko Miguel | UNTV News & Rescue

 

 

Pacquiao seeks 1-year freeze on Philhealth premium rate hike for health workers

Robie de Guzman   •   May 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Manny Pacquiao on Friday said he has filed a resolution calling for a one-year suspension of the increase in Philippine Health Insurance (PhilHealth) premium contributions for healthcare workers amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

In Senate Resolution 429, Pacquiao urged the Senate to call for the suspension of the increase in Philhealth premium rate for healthcare professionals for the year 2020 “as a token of gratitude” to their sacrifices amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The senator filed the resolution as Philhealth is poised to implement an increase in premium payments from 2.75% to 3% of its members’ monthly salary.

The increase is provided in the Universal Health Care Act, which provides for the automatic enrolment of all Filipino citizens in the government’s National Health Insurance Program. The law also mandates an annual increase in premium rate until it reaches 5% by 2024.

“The first year of the implementation of the increased rate of premium contributions, coincided with the advent and continuation of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines,” the resolution read.

“This has constrained most, if not all, health care professionals and other health care workers in the country sacrificing and risking their well-being and even their lives, to help cure the afflicted and stem the surge of transmission of the disease caused by the Covid-19 virus,” it added.

Pacquiao also pointed out that the pandemic has resulted in the “disruption of the professional practice of the health care professionals concomitantly leading to the marked decrease in the income of health care professionals and related health care workers, and to some, even to the closure of their clinics.”

“Such a suspension may help these frontliners in a small way, but the recognition and expression of gratitude will go a little farther to support them moving forward,” he said.

The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) earlier called on the government to suspend the premium payment increase for medical workers amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Bill imposing excise tax on single-use plastic bags hurdles House panel

Robie de Guzman   •   December 10, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeking to impose an excise tax on every kilogram of single-use plastic bags has hurdled the House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

The measure proposes the imposition of a P20 levy for every kilogram of single-use plastics used in malls, supermarkets, stores, outlets and similar establishments.

The proposed amount is higher than the initial P10 amount of excise tax contained in House Bill 178.

The committee’s chairman, Albay Representative Joey Salceda said that once signed into law, the measure would generate a revenue of P4.8 billion on the first year of its implementation.

It also has a minimal impact of P0.07 on sando plastic bags.

Salceda said single-use plastic bags will be levied first because imposing tax on other type of plastic packaging, like sachet, might trigger increase in the price of basic commodities.

“It’s just the first step. The next step is a tax on primary plastic packaging especially sachet since it accounts for two-thirds of solid waste and garbage,” Salceda said.

“We deferred that due to possible food inflation and prices of basic commodities, shampoo, toothpaste. However, if poverty goes single digit, we will include it possibly in three to four years,” he added.

The lawmaker also believes the measure would encourage the public to recycle plastic bags to help counter plastic pollution in the country, and add more fund for the solid waste management program of local governments.

Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association President Steven Cua, who attended the House hearing on Tuesday, agreed with Salceda’s statement.

“Walang kapalit ang plastic bag in terms of practicality. It’s the improper disposal that’s the problem, the mindset, which we have to correct,” he said.

In a 2015 report, the Philippines was listed as one of the biggest sources of plastic leaking into the oceans, after China and Indonesia.

A recent study by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) revealed that Filipinos use more than 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million shopping bags and 45 million thin film bags daily. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

Pacquiao urges public to support Filipino athletes, set aside SEA Games woes

Robie de Guzman   •   November 26, 2019

Filipino Boxing icon and Senator Manny Pacquiao

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino Boxing icon and Senator Manny Pacquiao on Tuesday called on Filipinos to show their support for Filipino athletes competing in the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and set aside issues on the reported shortcomings of the games’ organizing committee.

“Ang panawagan ko po sa ating mga kababayan, magkaisa po tayo, suportahan natin ang mga atleta natin kasi ito ang mukha natin, ito ang karangalan nating lahat,” Pacquiao said in a media interview at the Senate.

“Kung ano ‘yung problema saka natin pag-usapan, after ng SEA Games,” he added.

Pacquiao said bickering over supposed problems in logistics and accommodation, and other mishaps in the country’s hosting of the games will not help Filipino athletes to focus on the competition.

“Kapag lagi nating pinag-uusapan may mga problema tapos baka malaman ng mga atleta natin e hindi makadagdag, hindi makatulong sa kanila, iba kasi yung naka-focus yung mga atleta natin, marinig nila na nagkaproblema tayo dito, sa tingin ko makaka-distract sa kanila,” he said.

Pacquiao, meanwhile, advised Filipino athletes to trust in God and do everything they can to succeed in their fight.

He also urged SEA Games organizers to immediately address whatever problems being encountered by athletes and other delegates participating in the event.

“May pagkakataon pa para makabawi kung may pagkukulang man. Makabawi at maipakita sa ating mga bisita na tayong mga Pilipino ay magaling pagdating sa pag-estima ng mga bisita,” he said.

Pacquiao will be lighting the SEA Games cauldron in the opening ceremony which will be held at the Philippine Arena on Saturday, Nov. 30.

The said cauldron, which costs P50-million, has been among the issues plaguing the country’s hosting of the SEA Games. Photos of yet to be completed venues of sporting events also made rounds on social media.

Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) chairman Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said the delay in the approval of the 2019 national budget led to the mishaps encountered by the country.

Cayetano shared the view of Deputy Speaker Mikee Arroyo who blamed the Senate for the stalled budget passage.

But Senate President Vicente Sotto III refuted Cayetano, saying all problems in the budget stemmed from the House of Representatives.

Sotto cited the sudden shift in House leadership which also triggered changes in committee chairmanships.

House members in July 2018 voted to oust then-Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to put Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo to the chamber’s highest post.

Sotto said the House normally submits the budget bill to the Senate before October 1 but the upper chamber only received the House-approved budget on Nov. 24, leaving the senators just a couple of weeks to go through its provisions before the Congress went on a holiday break.

He also noted that it was Senate Minority Leader Franklin’s recommendation that paved the way for the resolution of the budget impasse.

“Together and other members or leadership of the Senate at that time we’re ready for a reenacted budget because I will not affix my signature on something unconstitutional,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

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