House OKs tax hike on alcohol, vape products on third reading

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 21, 2019   •   740

The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading the bill which seeks to increase taxes on alcohol and vape products.

Based on House Bill No. 1026 “distilled spirits shall have an excise tax of 22% of the retail price, as well as an additional specific tax of P35 per proof liter in 2020, P40 in 2021 and P45 in 2022. The specific tax shall be increased by seven percent every year afterwards.”

The Committee on Ways and Means chairman Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda assures the excise tax on tobacco products, as stated in the bill, is only for vape products.

“So if you are so afraid of the tobacco taxes, there are no new tobacco taxes (in the bill) except for vape which is not a tobacco product. It is essentially a vape, non-combustion,” he said.

Salcedo added that vape products will have an increase of P30 in excise tax from the current P10.

The bill states that selling heated tobacco products and vapor products at prices lower than the combined excise and value-added tax rates required by the law shall be prohibited.

There will also be a Joint Congressional Oversight Committee which will be referred to as the Oversight Committee on Illicit Trade on Excisable Products.

The said committee will (a) evaluate the programs and performance of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in addressing illicit trade on excisable products and recommend remedial legislation; (b) require concerned agencies to submit reports and data that can aid in resolving illicit trade of excisable products; (c) hold public hearings; and (d) deputize the BIR, the BOC, the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation and other enforcement government agencies as may be needed, among others.

Meanwhile, DOF Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua told reporters last Thursday (Aug 15) that they are not satisfied with the House version of the bill.

“We are not satisfied with the House version, but it’s a starting point. We hope to convince senators to go for higher rates for the universal health care program,” he said.—AAC

House passes bill seeking stiffer penalties vs child abusers

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill that seeks to impose stiffer penalties against child abuse, exploitation, and discrimination.

With 228 affirmative and zero negative votes, the Lower Chamber on Monday passed the House Bill No. 137 or the proposed “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.”

The bill, which would amend parts of the Republic Act No. 7610, aims to deter exploitation and further promote the best interest of the child.

The measure proposes penalties for the following unlawful acts done against children:

  • Any person who shall hire, employ, use, persuade, induce, or coerce a child to perform in obscene publications and indecent shows shall suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period, and reclusion temporal in its maximum period if the said person is an ascendant, guardian, or person entrusted in any capacity with the care of the child. If the child is below twelve (12) years of age, the penalty shall be Reclusion Perpetua in its maximum period.
  • Imprisonment of six months to a minimum of one year to six years or a fine between P100,000.00 to P300,000.00 for child labor practices.
  • Section 12 of R.A. No. 10364 or the “Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012,” which provides for the penalties and sanctions for trafficked persons, shall now be imposed on the employment of trafficked children.
  • Discrimination of children from indigenous cultural communities shall now have a penalty of prison correctional in its medium period. A fine between P50,000.00 and P100,000.00 shall also be imposed.
  • The offender shall undergo a re-education and reorientation program on the Indigenous Peoples culture of the Philippines to be conducted by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples or the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples Rights.

Under the bill, the penalties for other acts of abuse, cruelty, or exploitation and other conditions prejudicial to the child’s development shall also be raised.

The approved measure is a consolidation of six bills.

The Senate version of the bill remains pending at the committee level.

House Speaker Cayetano vows impartial hearing on bills seeking ABS-CBN franchise renewal

Robie de Guzman   •   February 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has assured that the House of Representatives will conduct impartial hearing on bills seeking to renew the franchise of media network ABS-CBN.

In a statement on Tuesday, Cayetano said the renewal of ABS-CBN franchise are among the issues that the Lower House has been “carefully studying from day one of the 18th Congress” amid calls from his colleagues to set a hearing to tackle the pending bills.

“Congress is committed to conduct a hearing where those who are against or in favor of the renewal may make their case,” he said, adding that the move will be consistent with the Duterte administration’s stand on the protection of the freedom of expression.

There are at least 11 bills seeking for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise pending before a House committee level, just about a month before Congress sessions adjourn on March 11. The network’s franchise is set to expire on March 30.

However, Cayetano stressed that the legislation process cannot be rushed.

“While we understand that there are certain interests who want to rush this process, we stand by the leadership of the 18th Congress and the Committee on Legislative Fanchises on how to prioritize urgent and important legislation,” he said.

“We also commit that the 18th Congress shall study this issue from all aspects in order to protect the interest of the public,” he added.

Cayetano issued the statement after Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto case before the Supreme Court asking for the forfeiture of the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN.

Calida cited in his plea the alleged highly abusive practices and violations of the broadcast network, including foreign ownership and lack of operation permits.

The network has denied the accusations, maintaining that it has no outstanding tax liability and did not violate the law.

House sets hearing on impact of COVID-19 on PH tourism

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 12, 2020

The House of Representatives will have a joint hearing on the impact of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 on Philippine tourism and travel industry.

The House Committee on Economic Affairs and the House Committee on Tourism will have a joint hearing on Wednesday (February 12) to get the views and perspectives of government officials and tourism stakeholders from the private sector on the issue.

According to Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa) President Cesar Cruz about 50 percent of reservations in Boracay, Cebu and Palawan have been canceled as a result of the imposition of travel ban to and from China.

Philtoa estimates that the tourism industry has lost at least P10 billion so far.

Meanwhile, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) had a preliminary estimate that the economy might lose up to 0.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or about P133 billion if the virus continues to spread.

House Speaker Alan Cayetano earlier expressed the need to ensure that tourism growth will not be derailed as a result of the travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 threat.—AAC

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