Senate invites Palace, Cabinet execs over sin tax bill lobby moneyBy Maila Ager
MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Legislative Liaison Office chief Manuel Mamba and two Cabinet members have been invited by the Senate in connection with the alleged lobby money involved in the controversial sin tax bill.
Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile said senators agreed in a caucus Tuesday to invite Mamba, Health Secretary Enrique Ona and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisma to shed light on the matter probably in an executive session.
“Pinaimbitahan namin pero hindi public investigation, pati Secretary of Finance, and Secretary of Health. Pinaimbita pati namin yung nagdadaldal na Presidential Legislative Liaison Officer. Pinadalhan ng sulat. [We invited them but not in a public investigation. The Secretary of Finance, the Secretary of Health, and even that Presidential Legislative Liaison Officer, who has been talking a lot. We sent them a letter],” Enrile said in a radio interview on Wednesday.
It was Mamba, who supposedly claimed that big lobby money was the reason why past administrations have not approved the sin tax measure for 15 years.
And lawmakers, who would not support the measure now, he said, would also arouse suspicions that they were on the take from tobacco and liquor companies.
Enrile said Mamba should face the Senate to explain and substantiate his claims.
“Kaya nga gusto namin malaman kung meron silang ebidensya, isiwalat nila. Dahil mahirap binabansagan yung tao, hindi mo na mabubura yung salita na yun,” he said.
Enrile said they would also ask Ona to explain his claim that a lot of people died of cancer because of smoking.
The Health Secretary, he said, must present also specific figures to support his claims.