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Legislators back 3rd-party monitoring of tobacco firms

OFW Family Club party-list Rep. Roy Señeres: Agree

MANILA, Philippines–Members of the House ways and means committee have endorsed a proposal to assign a nongovernment organization to monitor tax compliance of cigarette companies.

Northern Samar Rep. Emil Ong and OFW Family Club party-list Rep. Roy Señeres said they would file a resolution deputizing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Alliance of the Philippines to conduct a third-party audit of tax payments of cigarette companies amid fears that sin tax reforms in 2012 have been undermined by chronic tax-evasion schemes in the industry, specifically the use of duplicate tax stamps.

“That’s a great idea. I agree with the proposal of the antismoking group, aside from them, representatives of other civic and church organizations should also be included,” said Señeres.

The health advocate group expressed concerns over a recent study commissioned by Philip Morris International which showed that the Philippines lost an estimated P15.6 billion in revenue with the sale of tax-dodging cigarette products increasing by nearly three-fold to P17.1 billion last year from P6.1 billion in 2012.

“The government should ensure that cigarette companies have no hand in the third-party audit group. If we would be the monitoring group, I think that would be better,” said FCTC president Maricar Limpin in an interview with reporters.

Based on its proposal, FCTC would send representatives to cigarette factories to act as independent watchdogs.

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