Health secretaries all against Recto sin tax bill



Senator Ralph Recto. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The country’s health secretaries—past and present—are all solidly behind the drive to increase the sin taxes on tobacco products to avoid a projected lung cancer pandemic hitting the country in the next 10 years.

Civil Service Commission Chair and former Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said current Health Secretary Enrique Ona and previous Department of Health (DOH) chiefs Juan Flavier, Alberto Romualdez, Jaime Galvez Tan and Esperanza Cabral were in favor of increasing sin taxes to curb the number of smokers in the country while boosting government revenues.

“We don’t see this as a revenue measure but as a means to protect the health of our people. We’ve been fighting for this for years and now we’re seeing a groundswell of support. The time [to pass it] is now,” Duque said.

Duque said increasing the sin taxes on tobacco products would give a P21-billion boost to the country’s health sector, which is in dire need of funds.

“This would be of great help because it would go to PhilHealth, our public hospitals and health centers that badly need additional funding. Deaths due to tobacco-related diseases cost us P188 billion a year. That will have to be addressed,” Duque said.

But he welcomed Sen. Ralph Recto’s announcement that the Senate would still revise his initial proposal, which has been denounced by various sectors as a sell-out to the tobacco industry.

“We’ve talked to other senators and they are also willing to listen. It will depend on our health advocates, antismoking groups and the public… there is now a groundswell of support for this,” Duque said.

“I was also surprised by [Recto’s committee report]. I was expecting a bigger [revenue] target. He calls it an ‘equilibrium.’ I think the bill is still in ‘equilimbo.’ Let’s wait for our senators for the final results. We really need this,” he added.

Evita Ricafort, head of the public health think-tank Health Justice, said the sin tax bill was a “no-brainer.”

“This should be a no-brainer, but the sad fact is we are still being played for fools. Senator Recto says he is concerned about not passing the tax burden on to consumers who would end up paying more for cigarettes,” Ricafort said.

“That is the point, dear senator, we want to save Filipinos from death and illness from cigarettes. And beyond this very simple reason, genuine tobacco reform would bring in at least P60 billion to government coffers, which could then be used for health promotion and alternative livelihood for farmers,” she said.

“They can only reason out that this is a ‘balancing of interests.’ Whose interests? On one hand, you have the interests of big transnational tobacco companies to keep people addicted so they can keep raking in billions in profits,” she said.

“On the other hand, you have hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who have died and are dying because of cigarettes. So whose interests should our senators be concerned about?” Ricafort added.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Flavio

    senator rectum , RESIGN !!!

    • Betz Chui

      This is a tax bill..again, a TAX bill; Recto committee studied it well, consultations, research, projections etc. His committee presented what is best for all – soberly and objectively – now everyone is faulting him, shortsightdly, IMO.

      I think the question there committee tried to answer or identify was:

      ****What is the highest tax rate that can be be imposed that will generate the highest amount of tax return for the government?*** Note again, this is a tax bill.
      If the tax is increased (there are stat models used), 300 pesos per pack – projections could be that 95% of people will stop smoking or will resort to the crude type of smoking using “pipa” and crude filters. The government target tax revenue of 60 billion could go down to a few hundred million pesos. Smuggling of cigs and alcohol could up – more police/jail would be needed, and government cost will increase etc.etc  As this is a tax bill, it gets REJECTED. If this was a health bill…then it is best and ideal increase. What if we just increase the tax by 30 pesos per pack? Projection and models show it will reduce 60% of smokers whose daily net home pay is just 300 pesos or less, will the generate the highest revenue for governmnet, and will not discourage smuggling, will not totally kill the alcoholand tobacco industry etc. etc. But this will only come up with something 15 billion.

      Rectos committee: this is the result of this committees study, the best in all angles, the practical, the sober, and objective. so let us present this results…anyway this will be up for deliberations, interpolation, amendments…this is just a committee report for goodness sake!

      Henares, Santiago et al: Recto you are bad, you betrayed us. We want the result of your committee to report to show 60 billion, if not more! Else, we will give the committee to Lapid, if not Revilla! Resign…we want more the likes of lapid, revilla, estrada, sotto etc…..we do not want thinking and intelligent senators who refuse to be rubber stamped!! And who conduct studies and listen to consultations of affected sectors!


      This is my take of this whole brohahaha. Now flame me.

      • scconcern

        Nice to hear your side, but as long as life and death is envoled, your justification will be hard to sell. If you say cheap cigarette with pipa and filter will flourish, then we increase tax again or ban the sale of tobbaco.
        Plain and simple…A PROBLEM TODAY IS  A PROBLEM TOMORROW.

      • PhoenixPoliticalParty

        Not necessarily.  Remember that this is the year 2012.  In December, (as the Mayan calendar predicts),  our problem today may not be there tomorrow.   In fact,  we may NOT be there at all.  And so,  smokers,  puff now to your heart’s delight.   Cuz,  who knows?  Volcanoes may themselves slide back to the habit,  and really show us what smoking is!

        Tobacco planters,  hide seeds!  Survivors might look for  them the day after the event.  And smoke in peace,  at last!

  • Betz Chui

    If that is the case, make it a health bill instead of a tax bill. A health bill that would prohibit possession and consumption of cigarettes and alcohol products.

    • turin55555

       Correct! I really do not totally agree with all the bashing on Sen. Recto regarding his bill version. It is a tax bill. It will tax the business output of manufacturers so the government can raise more money to increase the national budget. Why should we use most of the tax money for health concerns? They should be used more in educating and feeding the people. Bakit natin pagkakagastusan ang nag bisyo? Sarap naman nila – naglasing at nagpausok na ng baga tapos tayo ang magbabayad sa pagpapagamot sa kanila.

      Sure, if we tax the sin products high that would at least significantly reduce users/vices. Question is, are we ready to bring down the income that the manufacturers bring for this country? Siguro taasan na lang lahat ang sin products taxes and then i-export ang majority para konti lang ang maiiwan dito.

      • Joey

        because in the meantime we have to pay for the health concerns of the poor anyway, be they smokers, drinkers, both, or none of the above

      • ClarkInKuwait

        dapat isarado na yang mga death dealers na cigarette manufacturers. Wala naman magandang naibigay sa lipunan yang sigarilyo kundi buwis lang. Then tax it to kingdom come. Squeeze them so hard that they will make their products prohibitive to the common tao. Then you will have a healthier population. Like the other people said, this tax measure is no brainer.

    • Joey

      you cannot completely ban alcohol and tobacco… learn from the american experience during the Prohibition… people resorted to smuggling all over the US, which brought rise to the american mafia

    • PhoenixPoliticalParty

      And, more importantly,  the manufacture and distribution of cigarette.   Going even further,  the planting and harvesting of tobacco.

  • diegogo

    Recto now finds himself in a bind. While he’s obviously set out to please his masters (read: Tobacco companies) he can’t ignore public sentiment more so now that the likes of the well-liked Flavier have spoken out against his bill. His being “Mr. Ate Vi” can only take him so far. He’s got no option but to capitulate.
    Mr. Senator, ibulsa mo na lang yung nai-advance na sayo ng Big Tobacco, kalimutan mo na yung “big windfall”. Tutal nagawa mo naman na yung gusto nila. Panahon na para yung gusto naman ng bayan ang gawin mo. Hindi mo na kailangan ng pera. At wag ka nang mag-ambisyon ng mas mataas na katungkulan…hanggang Senado ka na lang. Hindi ka nila matutulungan sa kung anupamang ambisyon meron ka.

  • pepengkabayo

    Health secretaries all against Recto sin tax bill…

    Wala naman nagawa tong mga Health Secretaries na ito noon panahon nila.
    Dumami ang Dengue, at lalong dumami ang mga filipino.

    Unang una di naman sakit sa paninigarilyo ang sakit ng mga Pnoy kundi TB na hanggang ngayon di pa naeeradicate. Panahon pa ni Quezon tong TB at lalong dumami, mostly filipinos are TB carrier….lahat may television.
    So, please stop your nonsense crusade health secretaries, wala rin kayong nagawa ng panahon ninyo, Hypocrites. Kala mo talaga na makamahirap…tsupi.

    • pabulaka

      Anong TB ang pinagsasabi mo? Ang pagdagdag ng buwis ay nagagawa lang ng Senado hindi ng isang Secretary of Health. Para may magawa sila, kailangan nila ng pondo para maturuan ang mga Pilipinong mangmang at bobo na hindi naniniwala sa masamang binibigay na sakit dahil sa sigarilyo. Walang sinisino ang usok, ke ikaw ang naninigarilyo o katabi mo ang naninigarilyo. 

  • Ommm

    Now how are they going to raise 21 billion MORE…and at the same time expect the majority of smokers to quit??

    Basic math will show revenues will actually drop…just as they did in the USA, Canada and all the other countries this has been implemented. At the same time  lung cancer incidents continue to rise in those countries…..

  • divictes

    Recto had no qualms unleashing EVAT knowing that it would hit the poor worst, but now he’s queasy about Sin Taxes aware that it will dip into rich pockets. 

  • xmb458

    Mahilig kasi itong si Recto ng mga second hand na bagay… Nilaspag na taxes na pahirap sa Pilipino, second hand na usok mula sa sigarilyo…at second hand third hand o 4th hand na yata na laspag na laspag na asawa na pinagsawaan ng iba…. Maski tanungin niyo pa si Edu

    • abbaj

      at romeo vasquesz din.

  • Homer Guo

    sa EVAT ok si recto; dito sa sin tax, ayaw. Iba na talaga ang may tinitingnan sa may tinititigan….money, money, money…..

  • AmpJr

    This is a big blow to Senator Recto…He is thinking of the consumers(and maybe the tobacco companies and growers) not the hundreds of thousands dying of cigarette related illness…That was a big blunder…unless he will accept that he made a mistake people will think he is on the take from the big tobacco companies….


    Recto, Recto, ano na naman ba ito?
    Kinokontra mo magandang payo sayo.
    Mahirap unawain ibig mong gawin,
    Ang plantsado na gusto mo pang ungkatin.

    Ang kalusugan ng mga mamamayan,
    Ang pangunahing lakas ng ating bayan.
    Hindi kayang ito ay matatapatan,
    Nang kahit anong uri ng kayamanan.

    Pagpataw ng mataas na buwis sa yosi,
    Nakikitang mababawasan ang syobi
    Paghitit ng nagbabagang sigarilyo,
    Na sa una’y sarap, sa huli’y kalbaryo. 

    Bakit tila ngayon ika’y nag-iisa,
    Krusada mong may kinikilingang iba.
    Kwarta o kahon ba ang siyang mahalaga,
    At sambayanan ay pumapangalawa?

    Kahit na ano pa ang ‘yong palabasin,
    Tulog na kabaya’y ngayon ay nagising. 
    Kitang-kita ng lahat ang ebidensya,
    Lahat ng ebidensya na sa ‘yong bulsa.

  • devin dawakoh

    Masyado ng ganid
    ang gobyerno ito dahil sa walang patid na pangongolekta ng buwis at hindi na
    naisip ang kapakakan ng mga tobacco farmers and workers.

  • Guest

    Sa laki ng buwis
    na nakokolekta ng gobyerno sa sin products, hindi naman nila napapaganda ang
    health services sa taumbayan, san napupunta ang pondo?

  • boldyak

    bakit naunahan ang mga ito ng BIR sa pagbatikos sa RECTO proposal?..

  • johnlordphilip

    If Recto still thinks his idea is above those of the EXPERTS  (both local and international), then I don’t know what kind of person he is.

  • scconcern

    Recto a loser and failure…Evat, now Sin tax. Recto should realize that in analysing things, there are intangible values, sometime it is priceless, eg. damage to life, how is this quantified.
    I for one, agree and support the DOH stand. Hope it is not pera pera, pero……………..???????.

  • Patrick

    ok sakin yang SIN tax bill na yan..dpat iincrease ang mga putapeteng mga sigarilyo at alak na yan…tignan mo oh sa tuwing naglalakad ako sa metro manila palagi kong nalalanghap ang mga usok na yan palibhasa kau naka aircon kau kaya di nyo nalalanghap..

    or ganito na lang sige wag nyo taasan ang sigarilyo natin tignan natin kung may bibili pa ng yosi kung lahat eh nagkakasakit…

  • Patrick

    wag naman nating isipin ang profit guys isipin natin ang kalusugan ng mamamayan..tapos sabihin nyo ng halos karamihan ng mga pinoy ay hindi alam ang maidudulot ng masamang bisyo eh kailangan nating sana maipasa itong bill na ito at gawing  pesos ang isang kaha ng sigarilyo ngkakasakit na nga ako sa baga dahil sa second hand smoking eh…kahit ndi ako ngyoyosi…grrrr

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos