Congress can still OK tobacco tax hike by June, says lawmaker
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday expressed confidence that Congress could still pass a measure that will raise the excise tax on tobacco products before it adjourns on June 7.
After a three-month break, Congress will its session Monday afternoon.
“We have nine session days na naiiwan, (it) is actually the best opportunity to pass this bill,” Gatchalian said in a press conference at the Senate, noting that more sectors are already supporting the measure.
The House of Representatives has already approved its own version of the measure which pegs the tobacco tax rate at P37.50 per pack while in the Senate, three bills have been filed seeking to raise the tax rate from P60 to P90 per pack.
The Senate committee on ways and means, headed by Senator Sonny Angara, however, has yet to release its report for discussion in the plenary.
If Angara could bring the measure on the floor by Monday or Tuesday, Gatchalian said the Senate can approve it by next week on third and final reading.
Both the Senate and the House, he said, may ratify the measure before the June adjournment of Congress.
“Kayang kaya pa ho, with nine session days , kung mag o-overtime ho ito kayang-kaya mapasa ho ito,” said Gatchalian, one of the authors of the bill in the Senate.
“Ang kelangan lang natin e makausap yung ating mga paboritong senador para mahingan yung kanilang mga suporta.”
Aside from Gatchalian, Senators Manny Pacquiao and JV Ejerctio have also filed separate measures seeking to raise the tobacco tax rate.
Gatchalian noted that the bill already has the support of the Department of Health, Department of Finance and health advocates, among others.
In the Senate, he said, four senators have also openly backed the measure.
“I think openly we have four senators na openly (supporting the measure) aside from the 3 authors,” Gatchalian said.
“Senator (Risa) Hontiveros signified her support so meron tayong 4 senators na sumusuporta dito sa batas na ito,” he added. (Editor: Gilbert S. Gaviola)
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