MANILA, Philippines — A group of Frank Sinatra fans were elated with the recent approval of House Bill 5727 or the sin tax bill by the House of Representatives, before the legislative body ended its second regular session.
Said bill will result in higher prices for alcohol and cigarette brands and is said to boost government coffers by P30 to P33 billion in additional revenues annually.
On late Wednesday, June 6, a reform bill on the most crucial element that makes “sin” products–tobacco and alcohol–affordable made it through the plenary at the Lower House. It has been more than 15 years since a sin tax bill made it out of committee meetings and was finally voted on by lawmakers.
In a landslide vote, 210 lawmakers favored the Palace-backed House Bill 5727, while 21 opposed and 5 abstained. The votes overcame traditional issues, such as job losses and smuggling, raised by anti-sin tax reform lawmakers. (via Rappler)
Ferdinand Pangarap Basingat, leader of the Association of Singers Scared to Sing Sinatra Songs (ASSSSS), expressed their appreciation and relief with the passage of the bill. “For years we have been living in fear of drunkards who will try to kill us every time we will sing My Way in karaoke bars,” said Basingat. “With the passage of this bill, the chances of that happening will be lessened, if not, reduce it to zero.”
The bill’s author, Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya expressed the same hope as Basingat, saying “This bill would put into perspective a person’s expenditures. Instead of buying expensive liquors or tobacco products, a consumer would instead opt to buy the basic needs that are paramount to the welfare of his family.” The lawmaker was also positive that the bill would put an end to the “My Way killings“, as well as other drunk related violence and crimes.
For support group Sick of Secondhand Smoke Society, the bill’s passage is a welcome development, albeit a little bit overdue. Carlito Bugallion, like the rest of the group’s members, is suffering from stage-2 lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke. Bugallion regularly inhales smoke from the jeepney driver’s incessant smoking during his daily commute to work. “Tama lang na taasan ang presyo ng sigarilyo, para hindi na maafford ng mamang tsuper ang bisyong yan (It’s just right to increase the price of cigarettes, that way, the driver could no longer afford it)!”
He added, “Akala lang nila nagmumukha silang cool, pero wala namang magandang naidudulot ang paninigarilyo. (They think smoking makes them look cool, but there are actually no positive benefits from smoking).”
[UPDATE] The Senate, voting 15 – 2, has approved on third and final reading the Sin Tax Bill.
Voting 15-2, senators endorsed reforms to the existing “sin tax” law in a bid to generate P40 billion worth of revenues on the first year of implementation to be used to expand healthcare services in the country. (via Yahoo)