Aquino signs sin tax bill into law
“Today, we signed, finally—I repeat, finally—a law that will serve as an early Christmas gift for millions of Filipinos,” President Aquino on Thursday said after he affixed his signature to Republic Act No. 10351 (An Act Restructuring the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco) in Malacañang. The President said he signed the “sin tax” law, projected to generate P33.96 billion in revenue in the first year of implementation, to help liberate “more Filipinos from the vices of smoking and drinking.” The law raising taxes on tobacco and alcohol will be implemented starting Jan. 1. Mr. Aquino said the law was a victory against the powerful tobacco lobby and would provide extra funds for better healthcare and facilities. “The enemy was strong, noisy, organized and had deep pockets… but as I have always said, there is nothing that can stop Filipinos who are marching in the right direction,” the President, himself a smoker, said in a speech at the signing ceremony. The tobacco lobby included lawmakers representing tobacco-growing regions as well as powerful cigarette companies that enjoyed one of the lowest tobacco taxes in Southeast Asia. The country has the highest incidence of smoking in the region, with tobacco-related diseases costing the country P177 billion last year, according to the government. Health Secretary Enrique Ona described the new law as “a game changer” and a “victory for the health of the Filipino people.” Ona pointed out that the new law would discourage smoking in the country while injecting P146.7 billion into the country’s public health sector. The President said the increased revenues would benefit more people under the universal healthcare program and enable Filipinos to avail themselves of new and/or improved clinics and hospitals. He also delighted in the possibility of more and more Filipinos eventually quitting smoking and binge drinking because of higher excise taxes on cigarettes, distilled spirits and...
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