MANILA, Philippines—Following President Benigno Aquino III’s decision certifying the bill as urgent, sin tax reform bill could finally be approved Monday, according to Senator Franklin Drilon.
“The President certified as urgent the sin tax reform bill for he believes the passage of this very important piece of legislation will buttress government health agenda and address the high prevalence of smoking in the country,” Drilon said in a statement Friday.
He said that they are set to go into the period of individual amendments on Monday after which the senators will vote on the measure that seeks to raise around P40 to P45 billion in additional revenues on tobacco and liquor products.
“I am confident that our colleagues have seen and realized the importance of this reform measure to a great majority both as a health measure and as a finance bill. I am confident that they will vote for its passage when session resumes on Monday,” Drilon said.
The certification from Aquino allows the bill to be approved on second and third reading without the need to comply with the three days interval rule of the Senate. The three days interval rule states that a bill must undergo three separate readings in three days before it is put to a vote.
In Aquino’s certification letter, he said “Pursuant to the provisions of Article VI, Section 26 (2) of the 1987 Constitution, I hereby certify to the necessity of the immediate enactment of Senate Bill 3299 to address the urgent need to restructure the excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products in order to enhance revenue generating potential of the tax system, and utilize the incremental revenues therefrom to augment the funding for the universal healthcare program of the government.”
Drilon, the acting chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and also heads the Senate Committee on Finance, had previously stated that he wants the sin tax bill passed before the 2013 budget.
“We are in the final stretch. We are only one step farther before the passage of this bill; but, certainly, without the support of the President, we would not have gone this far,” Drilon said.
The sin tax reform bill is seen to decrease the number of smokers and drinkers in the country by raising the prices of cigarettes and alcoholic drinks. It also aims to increase the budget allotted to the Department of Health for healthcare services through the revenues collected from sin taxes.