People's Journal - Save Tobacco Farmers’ Livelihood -- Bongbong

25 August 2012

By Bernadette Tamayo | Journal Online

Featured-Image-Journal-OnlineSENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is apprehensive that around three million farmers would be displaced if the government failed to reach a "middle ground" with affected sectors in its plan to generate P60 billion revenues from the proposed "sin tax" measure.

“What are we going to do with them?” asked Marcos referring to farmers in 25 tobacco producing provinces.

“If these taxes are indeed imposed, what could we do to help the estimated three million farmers and their families who depend on this industry? It is our responsibility to find ways to address the loss of economic activity in the region,” he said.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile also warned that House Bill 5727, which increases taxes on tobacco products by over 700 percent would jeopardize the livelihood of the tobacco farmers.

Though he supports the government's intention to provide a universal healthcare program for the people, Enrile said that it should also take into consideration the “stomach of our people in the tobacco-producing provinces.”

“We are also protecting our own people. We cannot tax them too much. Under the bill being presented to us, some products are being favored over other products,” Enrile said.

Representatives from alcohol and tobacco companies Thursday appealed to the senators “in the spirit of fairness” to come up with a more equitable sin tax measure.

Sen.Ralph Recto, chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, said that the panel would only come up with a consolidated sin tax system after getting the position of all sectors to be affected by the bill.

“We are allowing everyone to speak. In the next two hearings we will listen to those who will be affected and other stakeholders, and then determine where we are going to spend this money. I will be able to make up my mind after the fourth hearing,” he said.