Recto fires back: Did lawmakers make a deal with alcohol companies?By Maila Ager
MANILA, Philippines –Senator Ralph Recto on Wednesday turned the tables on the House of Representatives when he insinuated that it conspired with alcohol companies, which resulted in a lower tax imposition on alcohol products.
Recto, who resigned as chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means Monday, noted a big cut in the revenue target from alcohol products in the House approved version of sin tax bill – from Malacañang’s proposed P30 billion target to a measly P5.2 billion.
Malacañang’s original proposal was P30 billion additional revenue from alcohol products and another P30 billion from tobacco.
“Did they make a deal with alcohol companies?” Recto asked during a press conference in his office in the Senate.
When asked if it seemed that way, the senator said, “It doesn’t seem that way . Ganun talaga ang nangyari dahil (That’s what really happened) from P30 billion down to 5.2 billion for both distilled and fermented liquor.”
Recto said the House version of the bill also cut the government’s revenue target from tobacco, from P30 billion to P27 billion.
The senator maintained that his version of the bill was better even if the combined projected revenues from alcohol and tobacco would go down between P15 to P20 billion compared with government’s target of P60 billion.
But because of strong objections and criticisms, he decided to withdraw his committee report and urged the committee to come up with its own report.
“I’ll ask this, why will they use my committee report when they were saying then that it’s no good?” Recto pointed out.
Asked what he would do in case the committee decides to use his report, the senator said, “Well, thank you for plagiarizing my report.”
“Intellectual property ko yun e,” he added.
And to some senators’ claim that he could not just withdraw the report by himself, Recto asserted his authority, saying that it was only him who wrote it.
He said he would even sign a new report if only to immediately start the plenary debates on the bill.
Recto said he would still try to explain his version of the bill when the new report reaches the floor but assured that he would not block its passage in the Senate.
“I’m not going to be an obstacle. I’m not going to insist,” he said.
Recto also reiterated his support for President Benigno Aquino III and even promised to stick by him until his term ends in 2016.
Recto belongs to Aquino’s Liberal Party and is part of the majority bloc in the Senate.