The Manila Times - Sin tax proponents face irate voters in 2013 elections

14 December 2012

By Jefferson Antiporda and Jing Villamente | The Manila Times

The-Manila-Times-NetA lawmaker on Thursday said that he will closely monitor the government’s implementation of the sin tax reform bill once it is signed into law and vowed to amendment it if the projected incremental revenue of P34-billion from sin products is not realized.

Speaking during the weekly Kapihan sa Senado news forum, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., noted that thousands of tobacco farmers and workers are expected to suffer while the sin tax law is being implemented and amending the law could be the only way to save them.

Ilocos, is a major tobacco-growing province in the country, and Marcos said that Ilocanos are very much aware of the sin tax issue as well as the legislators who voted in favor of the bill.

He said that it would be difficult for re-electionists senators who voted for the sin tax measure to convince the voters from tobacco-growing provinces to vote for them in the elections.

“We are going to be watching this [sin tax law] from the beginning. We will track it. An act of Congress can only be amended by another act of Congress,” he said.

Marcos maintained that the recently ratified sin tax reform measure, which is scheduled to be signed into law by President Benigno Aquino 3rd, imposes unrealistic tax rates which could kill the tobacco industry in the country.

Congress on its final version of the sin tax bill has set the revenue target collection from tobacco and alcohol products to P33.9 billion on 2013 in which tobacco will cough up P23.4 billion,s or 69 percent of the expected revenues.

All in all the government expects to collect at least half a trillion pesos from 2013 to 2017 a figure which Marcos said is too much considering that the tobacco industry is not that big.

“Look at the size of the [tobacco] industry, how can you collect that,” Marcos said adding that nobody could do a better job in destroying the industry than what they (sin tax proponents) did for the tobacco in the sin tax bill.

Meanwhile, the passage of the sin tax bill in congress could be a major issue in the coming 2013 elections and there is big possibility that it would have a negative effect on lawmakers seeking for reelections.

Marcos said that while he is committed to support re-electionists Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 4th, who are his party mates at the Nationalista Party (NP), he cannot force the his constituents in Ilocos province to vote for them.

Catastrophic effects

Meanwhile, over three thousand protestors belonging to the anti-sin tax alliance, the Peoples Coalition Against Regressive Taxation (PCART) spent the whole day at the Mendiola bridge urging President Benigno Aquino 3th to veto the sin tax bill and prevent the catastrophic economic effects of his signing into law of the sin tax bill.

The militant group also criticized the recently approved provisions by the Bicameral Committee Meeting for its abandonment of the safety nets meant to cushion to the impacts of the sin tax bill which will critically affect the jobs and livelihoods of those relying on the sin products.

In a statement, PCART insisted that the Aquino government is very much aware that a vicious institutional injustice is about to be committed against millions of Filipino workers, farmers, vendors and sari-sari store owners once the Sin Tax Bill is finally enacted but the President still pushed through with the IMF-dictated tax measure.

According to Gie Relova, secretary general of the militant Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino-National Capital Region-Rizal chapter, “Aquino did not only intentionally hand out the death warrants of our jobs and livelihoods, but also sent the dreams and ambitions of our children to the gallows. He had every reason to veto the sin tax bill and make Christmas celebration of our children turn from glum to merry but more importantly, he has to veto it before the economy turns from ugly to uglier.”

“Totally unacceptable!” this was the reaction of Anthony Barnedo, National Capital Region-Rizal secretary-general of the urban poor federation Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralita ng Lungsod (KPML-NCRR).

“If the sin tax is Aquino’s idea of a perfect Christmas, then his daang matuwid is a complete sham. If a regime that legalizes contractual labor, privatizes public hospitals, abandons the right the right to education, demolishes communities without a habitable relocation sites and now suppresses the way we make a living then logic dictates that the unbearable government such as Aquino’s is just as abusive and exploitative as its laws,” Bernedo added.

The coalition vowed to continue the struggle against an unjust and anti-poor decree such as Aquino’s regressive Sin Tax Law even during the electoral period wherein they are to launch a national negative campaign against those who supported the Malacanang-masterminded massacre of jobs and livelihood.