The Daily Tribune - Marcos warns re-electionists on sin tax bill vote backlash

14 December 2012

By Angie M. Rosales | The Daily Tribune

The-Daily-Tribune“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. likened the vote for the sin tax bill as an act of deceit and issued the warning to re-electionist colleagues in Congress when they start to court the votes from the so-called “solid north.”

The sin tax bill will result in a huge increase in the excise tax imposed on all brands of liquor and tobacco products that may in turn affect the livelihood of most tobacco farms where most Filipinos in Northern Luzon depend on for their livelihood.

This early, Marcos has already sounded off to his political allies in the Nacionalista Party (NP) — Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV — to brace themselves for the wrath of Ilocanos even if he campaigns for them.

Trillanes was among the 10 senators who voted Tuesday for the ratification of the tax measure while Cayetano, minority leader in the Senate, was conspicuously “absent” during the significant proceedings in the plenary.

Nine senators voted against its adoption into law, Marcos who is from Ilocos Norte, was among them.

Among the reelectionists in the upper chamber, it was only Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero who voted against the bill while Sen. Loren Legarda was also absent during the voting period.

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel voted for its approval.

Marcos, in appearing at the weekly news forum at the Senate, said that he had committed to campaign for both Trillanes and Cayetano in his home province and other “Ilocano” provinces in the northern region.

The senator admitted he has been quite fortright with them on what to expect from his provincemates and he himself anticipates dealing with public outrage when the campaign season sets in.

“Like what I had said, even if I campaign for them, I know their first question would be: Why should we vote for those who didn’t listen to our plea for help? The question that most will ask is what have you done for me lately? That is a natural question,” he said.

Marcos said his fellow Ilocanos know how each of his colleagues voted on the issue of the tax measure.

Asked by a reporter if what his colleague, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, also from the northern region, noted as lopsidedness of the measure in favor of the alcohol products would indicate much stronger lobbying coming from the liquor industry, Marcos said he cannot ascertain this matter.

“What I know is that the tobacco industry is bearing the most burden in the bill. If you wanted to destroy an industry, you could not do a better job than what they did for the tobacco industry in the sin tax bill,” he said.
Marcos’ disappointment on the bill stemmed from what he believes is the detrimental consequences of the measure.

“We are increasing the rates on local products but the imported ones only pay for customs duties. So its very preferential for imports. I really hope that I’m wrong. I really hope that this is one of the instances that I made a mistake for farmers, producers, manufacturers not to suffer including retailers,” he said.

“We are going to be watching this from the beginning of the implementation. We will track it. We have an oversight function. That’s all we will be able to do,” he said.

Last Dec. 11, voting 10-9, the Senate ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed measure on Sin Tax Reform Bill which aims to collect P33.96 billion incremental revenue for the government’s universal health care program.

”I have the honor to report to this august chamber the bicameral report on the reconciled bill,” Sen. Franklin Drilon said, referring to House Bill 5727 and Senate Bill 3299 or “An Act Restructuring the Excise Taxes on Alcohol and Tobacco Products.”
Drilon said the report has been “the product of the hard work and dedication of all members of the panel from both houses of Congress” as well as the valuable assistance of their technical staff.

It took Drilon, chairman of the Senate panel to the bicameral body and sponsor of the bill in the Senate, over two hours to explain to his colleagues the bicameral report which was signed on Tuesday morning.

Those who voted in favor of the bicam report include Drilon and Senators Edgardo Angara, Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Panfilo Lacson, Sergio Osmena III, Francis Pangilinan, Aquilino Pimentel III, Lito Lapid and Antonio Trillanes IV.

On the other hand, those who voted against the adoption of the report are Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate president pro-tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Senate majority leader Vicente Sotto III and Senators Francis Escudero, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Ralph Recto, Gregorio Honasan II, Ramon Revilla Jr., and Joker Arroyo.

Arroyo questioned the Senate panel over its failure to defend the Senate version which recommended P39.5 billion incremental revenue and 60-40 burden sharing between cigarette and alcohol industries.

Recto said the bicam report favored the imported over locally-produced products.

”It is clear that under this proposed bill, taxes on imported would go down while taxes on local products would go up. This cover both the cigarettes and alcohols,” said Recto.

Recto and Lacson expressed fears that the provision which allocated 20 percent of the revenue to district and municipal hospitals would lead to abuses of some local government officials.

Enrile echoed Recto’s observation that the government is allegedly favoring the foreign over the local products in the imposition of excise taxes.

Under the bicam final version of the bill, the government is expected to generate P33.96 billion in additional revenues, in its first year of implementation in 2013.

”Of the amount, P23.4 billion will come from increased taxes on tobacco, while P10.56 billion will be generated from taxes on fermented liquor and distilled spirits depending on its historical burden sharing,” Drilon said.