Bantay Palengke, an organization of Filipino consumers, today told Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno that the best way to promote health among Filipinos is to provide state subsidy for local fruits and vegetables instead of levying additional taxes on high sodium food products and sugary beverages.
Bantay Palengke Convenor Lester Codog, said “If they want to address rising diabetes, obesity, and other similar diseases in our country, nothing is stopping them from making healthy food widely available and economically accessible through higher state subsidies for locally-farmed fruits and vegetables. This is way better than making the food products that are affordable for poor families more expensive through their sin tax proposal. Taxation clearly is not the best method.”
The DOF proposed to impose a P10 sin tax per 100 grams or P10 per 100 milliliters of prepackaged food products that have either high salt or high sugar content.
“Noong tinawag nila itong sin tax, sino palang may sin? Sinong may kasalanan? ‘Yung mahirap na pamilya na noodles o sardinas na lang ang kayang bilhin dahil sa taas ng presyo ng mga pagkain ngayon? We believe the reason why poor families rely on these products is because they don’t have much of a choice due to the high price of healthier alternatives. We can’t tell them to rely mainly on cheap vegetables such as kangkong or monggo because that is already a part of their weekly menu,” Codog added.
Bantay Palengke also mentioned that providing subsidies for local fruits and vegetables will also help Filipino farmers and even food waste management.
“We know for a fact that a lot of our farmers decry the lack of support for agriculture. There are also times when there is too much surplus during harvest seasons and this drives the farm gate prices too low to the point of high spoilage and food waste. We can bridge the gap between hungry stomachs and food surplus through appropriate interventions of the government. This will cost money, thus our proposed subsidy, but it will solve many problems,” Codog explained.