Kimberly Jane Tan/BK | GMA News
Some 18,000 farmers may lose their livelihood if the bill seeking higher taxes on tobacco products is passed into law, a senator warned Thursday.
"Mababawasan ang konsumo mo [tapos] pag nabawasan ang konsumo, mababawasan ang kailangan na producers," Sen. Bongbong Marcos told reporters, citing his own calculation.
According to Marcos’ calculation, 18,000 hectares of farmlands for tobaccos may end up not being used if the sin tax bill is passed.
"Sa Ilocos Norte ang average land holding is .7 hectares, sa Ilocos Sur almost the same. Sa .7 hectares, calculate natin... one is to one, we’re talking about 18,000 farmers," said Marcos, who hails from Ilocos Norte.
"Hindi pa natin pinag-uusapan ‘yung sari-sari store, ‘yung manufacturer. Pero ‘yung farmers ang inaaalala ko dahil wala na sila option kung wala na sila tobacco saan na sila pupunta? Kung pupunta sila sa ibang produkto, mababawasan naman ang kinikita nila," he added.
Marcos, however, said he is not against the intention of the sin tax bill, which is to raise government revenue.
"Ang sinasabi lang namin, na kung papalitan ninyo ‘yung sistema, alalayan natin ‘yung ma-displace. And if you want to increase your tax collection, ‘wag ninyo wasakin ang industriya," he said.
"Pag-aralan nating mabuti kung ilan talaga ang madi-displace at gawan natin ng plano para sa kanila kung papaano ‘yung gagawiin natin para sa pagtulong dun sa mga madi-displace," he added.
Sen. Franklin Drilon, who replaced Sen. Ralph Recto as head of Senate ways and means committee, had earlier introduced a substitute bill that intends to raise government revenues from tobacco and alcohol products from as much as P40 billion to P45 billion.
But Drilon has repeatedly insisted that the passage of the bill would not cause tobacco farmers to lose their jobs.
Recto, however, had earlier said he doubts the government will be able to reach the P40-billion revenue target. He also warned the scheme may result in job losses.
Aside from job losses, Marcos had also earlier warned of the possible increase of smuggling incidents in the Philippines if the measure is passed into law.