Better health care

August 17, 2019

THE approval of the House of Representatives of additional excise taxes on the so-called “sin products” should be welcomed by all sectors of Philippine society, notably the poorest of the poor.

Last Wednesday, the congressmen approved on second reading House Bill (HB) No. 1026, which seeks to increase the excise tax rates on alcohol products, heated tobacco and vapor products.

Aside from funding the Universal Health Care (UHC) law, the proposed legislation also discourages excessive drinking, according to House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez.

Romualdez, president of the highly-influential Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), said excessive drinking leads to diseases like cirrhosis or liver damage and pancreatitis.

Albay Rep. Joey S. Salceda said the passage of the bill, otherwise known as the Package 2 Plus B of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), will generate P17 billion in revenues.

A known economist, Salceda is chairman of the powerful House committee on ways and means.

The government needs P257 billion for the first year implementation of UHC law in 2020.

Proceeds from the taxes will be used for the implementation of the UHC law and health programs to be determined by the Department of Health. Portions of the revenues collected shall also be allocated and divided among the tobacco-producing provinces.

However, the amount will be utilized exclusively for programs and undertakings to promote economically viable alternatives for the country’s beleaguered tobacco farmers.

Thus, the government deserves the people’s support as it exerts its best efforts to help the farmers and other affected workers in tobacco-producing provinces across the country.