Santiago ‘gobsmacked’ at Recto sin tax bill version


Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Ralph Recto. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Thursday branded Senator Ralph Recto’s version of the sin tax bill as an “abject surrender to the very rich and very powerful tobacco and alcohol lobby.”
“I am gobsmacked—speechless with amazement— at the committee report.  It bears no recognizable resemblance to my bill. It is an abject surrender to the very rich and very powerful tobacco and alcohol lobby,” Santiago said in a statement.
Santiago is the principal author of Senate Bill No. 3249, or “An Act restructuring the excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products,” and one of the signatories of Committee Report No. 111 endorsed for plenary debates Wednesday by Recto, who is chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means.

But the lady senator said she signed the report “only for the purpose of getting the bill out to the plenary session.”

Unlike the approved version of the committee, Santiago said her proposed bill would generate P60 billion revenues for the first year compared with the P15 billion projected revenues based on Recto’s report.

“When cigarettes and liquor are cheap, more people will use them. The Philippines already has one of the lowest prices of cigarettes and alcohol in Southeast Asia. That’s why every hour, 10 Filipinos die from tobacco use. Smoking causes 240 deaths every single day,” she said.

Under a treaty called the “Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” Santiago said, the tax on tobacco should be 70 percent of the price of the product.

The treaty, she said, aims to reduce the number of smokers from 28 percent to 25 percent by 2014.

This was the reason why, according to Santiago, her bill imposes a tax of P30 per pack of cigarettes by 2015.

“My bill imposes a unitary tax system, as recommended by the World Health Organization. The Recto bill uses a three-tier tax rate for tobacco and alcohol products, making them cheaper and thereby encouraging their use,” she said.

Santiago said her bill would save 4.15 million smokers in the first year while Recto’s version would save only 2.93 million smokers.

“My bill will raise the prices of cigarettes and alcohol, but it will save the lives of 240 Filipinos every day. Cigarette smoke contains 60 chemicals that cause cancer,” Santiago said.

She then called on university students and social media netizens to join the war against the committee version of the sin tax bill, which she branded as “the death star bill.”

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  • Aryong

    As a non-smoker and a non-alcholic drinker I support sen Santigo version. Masama talaga ang may bisyo sa katawan.
    I think netizen will not support your version lady senator, as many of them will be greatly affected by this bill.

    • rightist

      The taxes should be high so that teenagers will not be able to afford a smoking habit. It is best to target them. If they reach the mid-20s without smoking, probably they will not start anymore.

      • herry monster

        Good point sir, sila nga yung matataman ng maigi, pero sa tingin ko mas effective eto kung wala na yung tingi-tinging pag-bebenta ng sigarilyo dapat per pack lang siya, that way magdadalawang isip ka talaga kung bibili, lalo pa kung nag-uumpisa ka pa lang magbisyo.

      • Ernie Cortes

        di naman ma e enforce ang bawal ang tingi

  • kruger

    Just shows you how these senators go about their business:  Behind each other’s back!

    In its present version, the sin tax bill is not unlike the cybercrime bill:  Shot full of holes… ☹

  • $53950194

    Kudos Madame Senator.  

  • pilosopo4

    Exactly..higher tax to discourage this bad habit

  • Phenoy

    I agree 100% with the Lady Senator.

  • John Carter

    Ang tanong, magkano kaya ang lagay ng mga lobbyist kay Recto para ibahin ang unang proposal ni Santiago?

  • CDurrr

    Am I the only one who sees the excise tax as a tax on the poor? It is a classist piece of legislation. Would the taxes be used to fund centers to help alcoholics or free lung cancer screening for smokers? We all know the answer is a resounding NO.

  • Htee

    Brenda, why compare prices with other asian countries? Are they tobaco producing countries???
    Philippines produce virginia class tobaco leaf that is sought out by other asian cigarette companies, particularly Japan.
    Beside, raising the prices of cigarette wont change the number of smokers…if it will, it should have accomplished that already…coz how many times was the sin tax raised. When people are hooked with this vice, they are hooked for good. By raising sin tax, they will die not only of cancer but with the addition of ulcer…a smoker will save on food just to buy their dailly dose of puffs…
    This reason for raising sin tax is already gasgas…corny na…think of another naman.

    • Leonardo Vega

       I like your reasoning…baluktot kung baga….

    • Jessie

      Hoy ogag

  • jtpa

    Sin tax – is a tax with the main purpose to discourage the use of a particular item as it will cause it to become more expensive.  But the thing is, in the Philippines, cigarette is like a staple that you can buy everywhere and anyone can buy them.  In some countries, they can not be sold on a regular store – license is a must.  And only 18+ can buy them.  I also read that one country (I forgot which one)  is going to a plain packaging (all brand will have the same packaging and company logo is just a small part of it) – and they have photos of the diseases that you can get from smoking.  Raising thet tax by 1,000 times is okay for me but that is not enough – government should regulate the distribution of it as well.

    • suroy_suroy

       So long as there is the flair of beeing cool when someone smokes and drinks and boosts that his liqueur is his daily medicin and his cigarettes are his vitamins for his lungs – fine with me. A few weeks ago he died of lung cancer, very slowly, very painful and screaming.  Sorry, but have no pity with those kind of idiots.  Never mind the price for it – it has something to do with character and self-decipline.

  • iping2sison

    Majority of PH population is poor and Mr Recto has no concern for their well being.  I am a witness to daily paid laborers who continuously smoke and all of them have emphysema and some have lung diseases. They are the perennial patients of government health clinics availing of the free drugs provided by the national and local governments. Is Mr Recto aware of the huge expenses incurred by the government for treating our sick poor people?

  • Run High

    Senator Santiago is an endangered specie in the Philippine Congress.  She is one of the few senators who knows her job and knows how to do it as people’s representative.  There’s no bright future for Philippines and for the Filipinos with senators like Recto.  I’m proud I never voted for him!  He clearly represents the interest of the rich businessmen (as many of our lawmakers do) and not of the people. He is a joke!

  • Ed

    Sen Recto said that raising tax so much will not bring in revenue coz many will have to stop buying. If that is so, then one noble purpose would have been served. That is for many to stop smoking.

    Baka daw mawala ang goose that lay the golden egg. Well, the geese are the million filipinos slowly poisoning themselves so that the govt earn something. And the geese will sooner or later come knocking begging for public medical assistance and govt funds when their lungs start failing them. They will be tagging along their sons and daughters, who happened to get the smoke second-hand.

    Many rely on tobacco for their employment. Oh, well, assuming that tobacco industry is a good industry to begin with. Maybe time to develop industries more beneficial to society. Maybe rechannel the employment and resources to other products. Easier said than done.. but government, be creative. If we worry about the employment then might as well legalize jueteng and prostitution.

  • andrew lim

    Ralph “Philip Morris” Recto is anti-RH but pro-cancer!  ha ha ha ha

  • $23257130

     ilang milyones kaya nakubra nito ni recto sa mga lobbyists. ppppppppwwweeehhh. kadiri

    • dave

      Will you vote for Recto next time he runs?

    • sanjuan683

      Sabi ko nga ba dapat si VAT-man ay naging RECTONG na dahil sa cigarettes

  • rem1911

    My father died of cancer due to smoking….So I really hope cigarettes will be to expensive so that people will not buy it anymore…Sen RECTO is obviously protecting the cigarette companies…

    • Felix Alcantara

      RECTO is maybe acronym for Rescuing Cigarettes and Tobacco! hehehe

      • sanjuan683

        Puede din RECTONG baka nakuha na hehehehehehe

  • Doc_A

    Money talk… again and again… all they have in mind is to collect money… collect taxes!!! Oh these people… IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY… MONEY… MONEY!!! Senator Recto just missed the point… he forgot the other side of the BILL… the HEALTH CONCERNS… just simply shows how hungry our elected officials for MONEY!!! SAAN PA BA PUPUNTA YAN… KUNDI SA BULSA NILA!!!

  • Ed

    Guys, guys.. pls dont associate ralph with philip morris..

    Nagkataon lang na yung pagkalaki-laking pagawaan ng philip morris ay nasa kanyang lalawigan sa batangas. at marahil lagi nyang nadadaanan tuwing uuwi sya sa kanila.

    Nagkataon lang naman. Maganda kasi yung planta, nakakapanghinayang nga naman kung magsasara ito. Malamang marami na sya naging kaibigan dito.

  • erick_1972

       My dad  died of hypertension but this death could have been prevented if he stopped smoking. Smoking increased his blood pressure .even his mother ,my grandmother died of COPD . Good thing , two of his children did not take the habit.I took up smoking during my college days but had to quit due to the discomfort it brought to my throat and the smell and  the after taste . It is like coffee after the drink it lives a very  sour taste . And the smell even the perfume and tooth brush it still stays and even the clothes smell.There’s a joke to this smokers why not go around a car , bus or truck take  the muffler /exhaust pipe and let the engine put its might. Your killing yourself slowly why not do it on  3rd gear.If you take out smoking out of the equation so many doctors , coffin makers , embalmers and cemetery lots would be out of work and business.Hospitals  especially the Lung Center would ceased to exist when smoking is terminated . Let them smoke ,that is their purpose in life : to fill  one mans pockets.

  • Third

     We can insult Recto Morris as much as we want to, but at the end of the day, he’s probably happy too, with all the “reward” he’ll get (or probably already received) from Ninong Lucio.

    • duviz7533

      you hit the head of the nail kaibigan..agang bunos

    • dave

      Please add Trillanes on the issue. Remember Lucio paid his travel to China, 15 times.

    • Felix Alcantara


  • Janch

    Raise more taxes at the expense of the health of many Filipino citizens.  Keep them hooked and happy on tabacco and alcohol products, while you squeeze more money out of them. Galing!

  • -XO-

    For so many reasons, Miriam deserves to have her gob smacked, preferably with a haddock, but not today. I hate to say it, but she’s right on this one. Tobacco kills, and cheap alcohol ruins families. I am disgusted at how silent are the churches, too, on what would save so many lives by discouraging the excessive use of tobacco and alcohol. 

    • sanjuan683

      Naku kahit na Pari, naninigarilyo at umiinom papaano mo sila maasahan. hehehehe

  • Betz Chui

    Those projections are based on consultations diba? Ang asukal nakakamatay din, there are proposals in some countries na taasan din ang presyo ng asukal, ganoon din ang asin. Everything is a poison kong sobra. Santiago’s proposal is too much and unrealistic. Tanungin mo naninigarilyo!

    Rectos VAT is a MAJOR contributor that is making the country great economically today!! Kong hindi nyo alam.

    • sanjuan683

      Unggoy hindi nga umunlad ang economy ng Pinas dahil maraming lalong naghirap. hehehehehe Baka ang sinasabi mo great economy dumaming ang mga holdapan, manggagantso, snatchers, swindler, robberies at maraming pa iba. hehehehehe Alam mo hindi dapat nangyayari ang ganyan kung maraming trabaho sa bansa, kaso wala nga anong ikabubuhay nila siyempre gagawa sila ng masama na sanay mabiktima ka nila nang magising ka sa katotohanan. Utot

  • padrefaura

    bakit ganun, si Recto ang pasimuno ng VAT law na dahilan kung bakit tumataas ang presyo ng basic commodities, pero ayaw nya ng Sin Tax Law against vice products? 

  • simplylang

    The government spent 149 Billion pesos for health care on lung related diseases annually while collecting only about 23 Billion pesos from sin taxes. If we stop smoking, the government can save more without even having to collect a single centavos from sin tax.  

  • Betz Chui

    This is between what is realistic at unrealistic proposals. Cybercrime was done without consultation, this sin tax had undergone consultations – and that is the realistic increase na dapat.  If the purpose of the sin tax is for people to stop smoking or drinking – make it 2 billion percent increase!! And do not conduct consultations. Demokrasya pa rin tayo – smoker or not!!

  • duviz7533

    recto singing the he comes now sayin money,money

  • duviz7533

    dahil sa pera…nothing else

  • Betz Chui

    Bisyo daw, hehehe. ang lipstick at make-up ay nakakasama sa balat, some has heavy metal residues and other poisonous ingredients that can cause cancer etc, etc,. Ang pag pa lip–suction bisyo din yan , at nakakamatay minsan- ang mga Bisyo na yan – hala taasan din yan ng tax- tawaging cosmetics tax – dapat 1000% din. Walang aangal ha. hehehe

    • Felix Alcantara

      But the big difference is with cosmetics, anybody could choose to buy a respectable brand with no lead contents, while in cigarettes, branded or cheap, has still nicotine.

  • duviz7533

    dahil sa pera….nothing else

  • upupperclassman

    I do not normally support Senator Miriam, but this time I am with her 100%. Cigarettes should be taxed until they will disappear from Philippines. We have more than enough of dirty smoke. The liquors should be taxed up to where drinkers can still afford to take care of their livers. As described by Monsod, we have a Senator Philip Recto or Ralph Morris. We should show the senator way out in next election.

    • sanjuan683

      At saka eVAT-man

  • Betz Chui

    Ang bisyo ay natural lang na diversion ng tao. Ang mahirap – yosi na mumurahin….ang mayaman ay ano, at ano pa? kasing laki din ba ang tax sa mga bisyo ng mayayaman? This law is biased against the poor.

    • dave

      Then stop smoking and drinking alcohol then my friend.

      • Felix Alcantara


  • AlexC105

    Ralph Recto is obviously protecting the interests of Lucio Tan in this piece of legislation.

    • KapitanBagwis

      Not protecting, more like accepting lobby money.

  • The Franchise

    I remember how our family lost our family driver when I was a little kid. He lost his tongue first due to a Cancer growth on his tongue before he eventually passed away. oh, did I mention that he’s a smoker ? This LAW is not biased towards anyone. But if you insist. this law is biased towards helping people extend their lives some more. Tska First world countries have their own SIN TAXES. Huling huli na nga ang PINAS sa batas na eto, dapat dati pa pinasa eto.

  • dave

    Masyado bang mataas kung let say, isang stick ay Php100 at isang bote ng gin ngayon ay Php 50, gawing Php500??? Yung mga san mig light around Php800 or up per bottle??? Just a concern citizen, I hail Meriam on this. Becoz I saw every 6am daming tumutungga ng san mig light sa mga Call center. Umagang umaga….breakfast nila, pulutan at beer.

  • Felix Alcantara

    RECTO means REscuing Cigarettes and TObacco!

    • KapitanBagwis

      hehehe ok un ah!!!

  • abbaj


  • ashleybulls

    Anak ng hinayupak tong si Rectum!….Higupin mong lahat ng alak na ireregalo sayo ng mga tumador boys and mga kapreng hithit usok….wag kan sanang tantanan ni Mirriam….anak ka ng yosi at tuma!!!!

    • sanjuan683

      Tama ka diyan itong si VAT-man siya ang puno’t dulo ng pagtaas ng bilihin sa grocery at supermart. Baka sa pag-utot natin ay magkaroon ng VAT sa darating na panahon. hehehehehehe

  • speedstream2

    Wouldn’t it be more amazing if there were little or no lobby inducements in furtherance of vested interests with very little regard for health and clean living?

  • Adarna

    This time, i will be on ur side madam santiago!

    RECTO alis ka!

  • Langz

    We fully support M.Santiago version senate bill 3249.It will benefit not only health of Filipino people but could also help to raised govt. revenue.Likewise lessen the expeditures of govt. to health programs related to smoking & alcohol based sickness.

    • sanjuan683

      Tama ka diyan, nadadamay ako dahil sa usok ng cigarette nadadamay ang lungs ko. We support M Santiago version. Itong si VATman (Recto) ito ang pinakabuwisit na senador. Nagtaasan lahat ng bilhin dahil sa VAT.

  • Mike Henry French

    Recto is obviously wooing the tobacco companies for campaign funds…mga tanga naman tayo

  • adam_d_ant

    akala ko walang kuwentang senador si miriam sabi ng iba.

    o baka me “bayag” lang talaga si miriam na hindi takot ipaglaban ang akala n’yang tama?

    • superpilipinas

      he-he-he. depende sa issue.

      sa issue na ito, OK. sa nakaraang issue ni Corona, BAD.

      • adam_d_ant

        bro, baka si ate vi ang me balls

  • superpilipinas

    Never liked him.

    Baka mas OK pa si misis gov.

  • tamumd

    I agree with you 100% on this issue Ms. Santiago. Ralph Recto is pandering to the powerful tobacco and alcohol lobbies. I don’t think he cares about people’s health.

  • batchmatters

    this is one issue on which i’m definitely siding with sen. mirriam santiago.  she has terrible mood swings, but this one swings for the good of the majority.

    • My mom

      THE last guy who sided with Miriam Santiago, she called “humongous.”

      • KapitanBagwis

        What do you think humongous means? Is it a bad word?

  • dennis

    If we put more taxes in Alcohol and Cigarettes,this will encourage us filipinos to find the TRUE SOLUTION to a problem instead of deviating it into vices! Typical yan sa ating mga pilipino! Sa halip,lalo pang madadagdagan ang problema!

  • My mom

    THE original sin tax version the DOF/DOH peddled gave tax holidays to imported cigarettes, beer, and liquors. It imposed a 708 percent increase on cigarettes patronized by the poor, the highest tax hike on any product in the world. Moreover, it violated the mandate of the Constitution for taxation that is progressive (not anti-poor), equitable (not pro-beer and liquor), and uniform (not pro-imported). Never mind Constitutional safeguards? That’s the same logic that made senators and PNoy approve the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

    • Klein Mo

      “peddled gave tax holidays to imported cigarettes, beer, and liquors”  — this is a lie. DoF in fact wanted a unitary system 2 years after the proposed law is passed – meaning regardless whether its imported or locally-made, sin products should pay the same duties in percentage terms.

      “It imposed a 708 percent increase on cigarettes patronized by the poor” – this is a lie. The target of the DoF proposal as Sen MDS said is to raise tax intake to 70% of the retail price on average after 5 YEARS since currently, it just stands at 31% – how can this raise the price of cigarettes by 708%?? If you are referring to change in excise tax rates, here it is (obviously, since the target is a unitary system, the biggest jump in nominal excise tax would be absorbed by the cheapest tier): For cigarettes below P5/pack, which is the cheapest group, excise tax (note not the price) will jump by 414.7% in the 1st year; 57.1% in the 2nd year; 36.4% in the 3rd year and 3% in the 4th and 5th year.

      Accordingly, the price of the cheapest brands will rise by 92% in year 1, 35% in year 2, 26% in year 3 and 2% in years 4 and 5 — that is 241% increase spread in 5 years from the year of the passage of the law.

      Source: http://www(dot)dof(dot)gov(dot)ph/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Sin-Taxes-Q-and-A.pdf (just replace “(dot)” with “.”) or google “DOF Proposal, Sin Tax”

      Re the poor: Isn’t sin tax bill doing them a favor? Cigarette for instance is considered a “bad” in economic terms, i.e. it does not improve one’s welfare, rather it contributes to the deterioration of one’s health. So by forcing them to consume less of it entails that the probability of them getting cigarette-related health risks (not to mention the people around them) is also lowered.

  • magiting78

    Bakit hnd kaya gayahin ng Pinas ang Style s Singapore mag designate lng ng place or registered n tindahan lang ng alak at sigarilyo para mas madali makontrol at hnd  mabentahan yung mga minor. 
    At yung redlight ay dapat nasa isang lugar lang like in Singapore kung gusto mo mambabae o beerhouse punta ka Gaylang..Pwede namn gawin s Pinas ito Every Cities and Municipalities mag designate ng isang place for Red Light. Sa pamamagitan nito ay mas madaling makokontrol ang prostitution at yung child prostitution, hnd tulad ngaun kaht s residential areas ay merong beer house nag kalat.

    • KapitanBagwis

      Bawal po prostitution sa pinas.

      • drunken_master

        yeah.. right..

  • George

    finally, i have something to agree with my ka ilongo. a

  • KapitanBagwis

    We are behind you on this fight, Sen Santiago. Recto is being blinded by the lobby money of these cig companies.

    Ate Vi needs campaign kitty for the coming election?

  • indiosbravos2002

    The sin tax goes to a health fund that subsidizes health cost of people who get sick from sickness related t smoking and drinkng. The government needs to ncrease the tax because it has been spending more than the fund its generating. I guess the government should just increase the tax way up to 1000% to discurage people from buying. It will kill the health fund but would encourage people, specially the pooor, to live more healthy.

  • drunken_master

    to get full support from the entire nation:
      – Lower the general VAT to 5%..
      – Keep the hefty SIN TAX

    This is the best compromise. let those overly-wealthy-tax-evading tobacco and alcohol tycoons pay more… LOL

    DISCLAIMER: Some or most of them may not be tax evaders, though… F%&#$% the Cybercrime Law…

    • Klein Mo

      I beg to disagree… I would rather lower the income tax by a good margin, maintain (or raise a bit) the VAT and raise sin Tax substantially. The rich pips always find a way to circumvent appropriate income taxation, whereas for the middle/working class people, income taxation is automatic – which is unfair. On the contrary, if consumption is taxed more (e.g. VAT), the weight of tax burden shifts to the rich, since the rich consumes high-valued products more often than their middle class counterparts. Consumption taxation is also automatic regardless of income class – i.e. you pay the VAT as soon as you buy the good — no more accounting tricks.

      Note, our current tax effort (tax/GDP) is still below 13% — one of the lowest in the region — meaning we need more revenues to finance educ, health, infra, etc. We cannot expect a society to have decent public services and amenities without having deep coffers. Surely, a lot can still be improved in tax administration and tax utilization, but tax policy is another avenue we can do better.

      • rem1911

        Good point. I even pay more taxes as a working class compared to a businessman who earns millions because they can get the best accountants and go around the system. Imagine they can put gas bills, travels, restaurant bills, others as part of their “expenses” and deduct it so that their net earnings will be lower. THey will end up paying LESS, While the working class we get automatically deducted.

      • drunken_master

        I would not agree less on your point. I am a common employee and I pay about 46% in taxes (33~% witholding + 12.5% VAT) — I spend all my take, like most of the working class. Anything to lessen the total tax that I pay to consume even basic commodities (e.g. food, meds, clothing, transportation, etc) would really go a long way.But if we lower the taxes from the working class without a better alternative, it will not pass congress because it will greatly lower the government’s income since bulk of the tax collection still comes from the witholding tax from the working class. As you have pointed out, this government does not have the balls to collect from the rich and powerful. 

      • Klein Mo

        But for instance, your income tax would be lowered to 23% while VAT is pushed to 15%, wouldn’t you be better off than today? And this does not necessarily mean lower total revenue intake for the government. The problem with income tax is that it can be circumvented by the rich while VAT can’t be. If the 10-percentage point reduction in income tax is accompanied by less deductibles provision – which the rich tends to abuse, we might end up with higher tax collection since the government might get an effective income tax rate that is higher than what it is getting today. It requires thorough calculation of course, but it is possible. One concern with the VAT-Income tax proposal is that those people who do not pay income tax (min wage earners), don’t really benefit from income tax reduction but suffer from VAT increase. In this case, this impact can be offset by targeted cross subsidy involving basic commodities.

  • SojuSaki

    Though often misunderstood, Miriam got not just the biggest brains but also the biggest balls among senators. Her version of the bill would definitely reduce the number of smokers especially among the youngsters. 
    Smokers are the most invasive and intrusive people on the planet, they are polluting the air in which non-smokers and even my mastiff friend are forced to breath. 

    • drunken_master

      there are responsible smokers, you know.. like if you see me, you would not know that I am a smoker… and for us, smoking also serves a purpose — just like you riding a gas-consuming vehicle…

      don’t get me wrong, I am pro-sin-tax…

  • tilamsik

    WHY NOT JUST ASK THESE CIGARETTE MANUFACTURERS TO CLOSE ALL TOGETHER if you guys are really after the health of people.  

    • mikeyspetshow

      Lol, u can’t close those companies coz u are jeopardizing the economy of our country. We are still in democratic country

  • Daniel Escleto

    How much was at stake?

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