Tobacco farmers, factory workers, vendors rally against ‘sin tax’ bill



About 3,000 tobacco farmers, cigarette-factory workers and street vendors demonstrated in front of the Senate building in Pasay City on Tuesday to protest the proposed “sin tax” bill which would raise taxes on cigarettes and alcohol products to raise P40-billion in additional government revenue.

Farmer groups and labor unions from Marikina, Rizal, Navotas and Bulacan started gathering at the Senate gates at 10 a.m.

As the final amendments were being set inside the Senate, the protesters put up a stage using a large trailer truck where five members of different labor groups entertained the crowd with songs.

“Ang hirap talaga ng buhay ngayon (life is really hard nowadays)” sang one band vocalist, encouraging rallyists gathered around the stage to dance and sing along with them.

Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PFMTC) labor union executive officer Danny Bataller said about 80 representatives from various labor and farmer groups attended the final debate and argument on the bill.

‘Takatak’ boys


“Some ‘takatak’ boys (street cigarette vendors) were given the chance to hear the arguments of our lawmakers regarding the sin tax bill,” Bataller said.

He added that the street vendors would be among those greatly affected by the bill’s approval.

“This sin tax will increase the price of tobacco products, thus creating a domino effect on all those involved in the trade,” Battaler said.

He also noted that some cigarette-factory workers might lose their jobs, tobacco farmers might earn less than what they are presently earning and street vendors will lose a chance to earn.

“The passing of the bill can eventually lead to the death of the tobacco industry,” he said.

Jonathan Corpuz, a PFMTC member, said he and other factory workers have been struggling to work beyond normal working hours to earn extra for their family.

He said what they earned was still not enough to send their children to school and they feared the effects of increased sin taxes.

The People’s Coalition Against Regressive Taxation also urged lawmakers to give immediate attention not to the sin tax bill but to issues of the poor and the marginalized.

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  • mark_john21

    “The passing of the bill can eventually lead to the death of the tobacco industry,”
    That’s good! I’ve got many relatives died due to smoking. At least, now there would be less.

    My advice to those tobacco farmers–farm another crop or better yet, find another job.

  • Constantine

    There is life after cigarette. And it is a lot better not only for the smokers but for people surround you! So, stop this protest on the new sin tax bill and we all become safer! 

  • Bastonero

    Libo-libo ang mawawalan ng trabaho laban sa milyong nanganganib ang kalusugan, kaya sa sin tax bill na tayo….

  • Bengatibo

    Sino ang nag-finance nang 3,000 tobacco farmers, cigarette-factory workers and street vendors demonstration completo pa nang stage at banda??? Hindi ba obvious???

  • John

    Tell Tobacco Farmers to plant malunggay, and process them to herbal powder and capsules. Pwede pa nila i-ulam..

  • Jim

    Multi-billion tobacco money at work…

  • CPCook

    Yes, the additional tax will reduce consumption of tobacco and alcohol.  That being said, the additional tax can be equated to those consuming tobacco as paying the government forward for future medical expenses that the government would have to subsidize.  Be that as it may, aside from the option of planting other crops, tobacco farmers can grow high quality tobacco and export them. The sin tax is only for local consumption. Truth is, I am not very happy with the bill as passed by the senate. Tobacco’s share should have been more.  For one, there is a social cost affecting even those who do not smoke due to second hand smoking. Has anybody heard of second hand hang-over?

  • Ommm

    Our dear president has spent over 2 years waging his “war on corruption”, citing the billions and billions being plundered with massive government revenue loss.

    After all this time one would presume the government is now overflowing with income that once was lost. So why do we need exorbitant taxes to fund a health care system?

    A larger question is why do they quote the need to stop people smoking for their own good as their  justification, and in the same breath advertize a 60 billion increase in revenue?…. this is simply mathematically impossible yet they bury their heads in the sand about this reality.

    Fact is they don’t want anybody to quit, if they did they would simply ban the substance.

    Of course if they did make smoking illegal, P-Noy himself would be forced to quit and by his own proclamation thats not an option. Yet it is ok to force the poor who elected him, that he promised to serve, to use their own poverty against them to appease some world health committee that is on a mission to decimate tobacco worldwide.

    Another fact is about 1.2 million die worldwide from lung cancer each year but  55,297,034 OTHER people still die yearly anyway. Coincidentally 1.2 million children die of diarrhea each year yet not much seems to be being done about that.

    I ponder all this while enjoying a smoke as i wait around to die…..

  • leody

    maraming manggagawa ang  mawawalan ng trabaho hindi dahil titigil na ang marami sa paninigarilyo kundi, dahil lilipat sa imported na sigarilyo  ang marami.  ang 17 milyon na naninigarilyo ay captured market na pagkakakitaan, kung di kayaning makabili ng mahal, gagawa ng paraan ang mga negosyante na sila ay mabentahan ng mura, para maging mura, smuggle na sigarilyo ang ibebenta. 

  • R J

    In the long run this BILL is good for the economy and healty life. also the government must protect the local cigarette maker by STOPPING THE DUTY FREE PHILIPPINES for selling
    TAX FREE alcohol and cigarettes for incoming passangers! Im not against DUTY FREE but
    they must also follow the rules.

  • divictes

    3000 lang? Kuripot n’yo…hakot pa!

  • Immortal

    It’s time to pass the bill. It’s hard to see vendors and farmers to suffer but it is worst to see a lot of Filipinos die everyday, smokers and non-smokers due to tobacco use. Our government is also spending a lot for medical cases related to tobacco use on which the money spent should have been given for other medical cases. I just hope that our government have a plan to help our farmers and vendors alike.

  • Political Jaywalker

    I wonder which one has more compelling arguments, jueteng collectors protesting loss of income on anti jueteng sweep during Arroyo’s time or farmers, workers and cigarette vendors on income/job loss if sin tax passed?

    Really people? Can’t Filipinos come up with more pressing agenda or advocacy like anti-political dynasty instead of non-issues like sin tax bill and jueteng collectors losing income on juetneg clamp down?

    • jojoandrada

      I don’t like the sin tax bill but I don’t think it helps to muddle up the issue with non-related things. Hit the sin tax bill if you will, but keep the discussion confined so people can really form opinions.

  • Christoffer Kristiansen


  • jojoandrada

    Pag taas ng presyo ng yosi … mag-shift na ako sa imported. Blue seal here we come !!!!

  • Carum Al Dumal

    In Thailand, where a lot of opium was grown, the government introduced a crop substitution project. They encouraged opium growers to plant high-value fruit crops. Problem with that was the government forgot to teach farmers other skills such as fruit processing and marketing. Somehow, a few of these farmers started growing Oolong Tea which in my opinion is a GREAT tea. Thing with tea is that like ganja, cocaine or opium – tea shares some of the characteristics those three illegal plants possess.  Tea is High Value, Low volume and can be stored for many many years without spoiling. Tobacco farmers could switch to tea of find another crop that can replace Tobacco.

  • jojoandrada

    The sin tax bill will not eradicate the health issues caused by tobacco. It will just make smoking a little less convenient and more expensive but I bet my balls … people will still smoke. They will shift to cheaper brands. There will be internal smuggling. Illegal imports will proliferate. There will be ‘fake’ untaxed cigarettes.

    People will cut down on spending in other areas just to be able to smoke. They will drink less soft drinks. They will buy less expensive shoes. They will download movies for free instead of buying even the ‘pirated’ DVD’s. They will buy from the ‘tiangge’ instead of the air conditioned malls. They will shift to food stalls rather than eat at Jollibee or McDonalds. They will drink instant coffee and screw Starbucks. There will be more chinese brands.

    At the end of the day, all this bill will be able to accomplish is the squeezing out of more revenue from the people they are supposed to serve and protect.

    Smoking is all about addiction. Money has got very little to do with it. If you have the addiction, you will FIND the money.

    • Ommm

       Beyond all that truth…what gives the government the right to tax tobacco in the first place?

      They don’t own the cigarette company’s or the farms that grow it. They do already tax both enterprises through income tax. Their “sin tax”, or any product user tax, is nothing different than the Mafia or NPA muscling in on a business and demanding protection money.

      Sure they claim losses through health care costs… but those that choose to live in shanties beside dengue infested creeks also cost a fortune in health care…should we charge those folks a “shanty tax” to subsidize health care?

      A sin tax is the first step toward total government repression of freedom of rights.

      • Web Project

        “what gives the government the right to tax tobacco in the first place?”

        – Whatever it is that gave the government the right to tax the food we eat, the water that we drink, the house that we live in, the income that we work hard for, and everything else that sustains us.

  • Peter

    bakit kelangan pa ng sin tax bill para madagdagan ang budget ng gobyerno? bat di nalang nila tanggalin ung mga numanakaw ng tax na binabayaran ng tao? problem soved

    • puza65

      madaling sabihin pero sino ba ng nagnanakaw…di ba at ung gumagawa rin ng batas..

  • Gugwipe

    Pwede na rin P40 billion revenue collection sa sin products. Pero mas maganda siguro kung maibaba pa ito sa bicameral conference committee.

  • vinzerx

    It’s pretty sad that these folks don’t have other skills they could bank on, so they’re fine with tempting the masses and even non-smokers to risk their health instead.

    Perhaps the TESDA can swoop in and give these affected folk some other means of living.

  • Guest

    Escudero and Arroyo lang ang nakakaintindi ng kapakanan ng mga tobacco farmers, growers, vendors etc. Praise these two senators.

  • CesarPalmaIII

    Poor tobacco farmers, cigarette vendors and employees of tobacco companies. They are the most affected by this bill. Smokers will simply cut down on smoking or perhaps go cold turkey once cigarettes will be out of their price range. Ironic however, that liquor, which is usually the source of all troubles, only gets a slap on the wrist. 

  • CrispinBasilio

    Raising the price of cigarettes won’t stop people from smoking. They will just shift to the cheapest brand. Same nicotine fix. However, the impact on the affected industries is massive. There will be unemployment as well a rampant smuggling once the sin tax bill is signed by the president.

  • puza65


  • Web Project

    This is good IF the additional revenues that will be generated from sin tax will be added to healthcare, which would consequently and “hopefully” help cure the poor man suffering from smoke-related illnesses and does not have the means to get treated. If you are the government, whose needs will you prioritize?

  • schmuckthat

    kawawa nga naman mga farmers at takatak boys.  Di naman ata fair sa kanila itong sin tax bill na ito, mawawalan sila ng kabuhayan.  ano plano ng guberno sa kanila? ok lang naman kung mag taas ng tax eh, pero wag naman sobra sobra, at lalo naman di makatarunggan na mas mataas ang tax ng sigarilyo kesa sa alcohol!

  • Mitch Ilano

    The government it seems plans to wipe out the tobacco industry, and indeed a lot of lives will be affected.  No, I’m not talking about the smokers, we can always get our nicotine fix from smugglers that I’m sure will offer cheap cigarettes once this bill is passed.  I’m talking about the tobacco farmers, the “takatak boys”, the street vendors, and even those who work for the big companies, the government is taking away their livelihood. Are they just suppose to plant and sell rice instead?  

  • Louie Ranado

    Despite the warnings from industrialized countries, the government still pushed through with this sin tax. Wasn’t the objective of the administration in prioritizing this bill was to improve the credit rating of the Philippines? It seems ironic that the bill was supposed to improve our reputation in the international community yet it seems that its drawing flak instead? And still the administration pushed through with it. Hasn’t it learned from the much controversial Anti-Cybercrime Bill? Hopefully the SC will find this bill, similar to the ACC Bill detrimental to the economic stability of the country.

  • Jason de Castro

    Our Senators have once again failed to do their research on this. Cigarette tax increases in a number of countries have led to at least three ancillary problems that must be reckoned with: smuggling, theft, and “channeling.” The most pertinent of these three is smuggling, specially in a country like ours, with agencies and officials like ours and a system like ours. And these farmers know that the humongous tax hike will kill them and the smuggling will bury them. 
    These legislators continue to give us laws that are irrelevant and arbitrary, laws that we dont need. Lets show them we dont need them also, elections are a-coming. 

  • Rafael Torres

    The taxation of any commodity can reach a point where people begin to modify their behavior. And once that line is crossed, the sky’s the limit, including terrorism. There’s nothing whatsoever that should be surprising about this, when you understand the potency of government economic policy to modify behavior. These protests will develop into a movement and the movement into something bigger the government will have to face and deal with. Then it will again ask the senators to pass a bill again. Its all just a cycle, a vicious one. 

  • disqusted0fu

    there is no win-win situation in this Aquino administration. someone always has  to lose… and it is always going to be the people who opposes the selfish decisions of the mighty president.

  • kate

    Wipe out the Filipino industry, encourage smuggling, and line the coffers of our corrupt and incompetent government official – that  is the real essence of the Sin tax bill. 

  • Roberto Magsarili

    When we, the filipinos, start to see changes in the government, we begin to protest because of the negative impacts involved. And even when there are positive effects to come, we disregard them as if they’re not even positive at all. This is not only true to the sin tax bill, but also on other bills the government attempted to pass. This shows our incompetence to change. We are too humanitarians to let go of this short-term loss for long-term solutions. The sin tax may be the first step on solving our quality of life. For those who believe the sin tax is a farce, I ask you this question: Which do you prefer? A country full of people who have an expected life span of 40 years for the smokers (1st, 2nd and 3rd hand)? or a country full of long living filipinos who have no jobs in the next few years?

    I think the space used by the tobacco industry can be converted to another type that doesn’t harm anyone. Thus, the ones who previously lost their jobs can be reassigned to a new market. If they cannot adapt to this, then I have no idea how to solve their problems regarding jobs.

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