Despite ‘critical week,’ Gatchalian hopeful for Senate OK on tobacco tax hike
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian admitted on Sunday that if the bill on the tobacco tax hike would not be passed into third and final reading within this week, it may not be signed into law.
Nevertheless, Gatchalian remained optimistic that Senate Bill No. 2177 will be passed before the 17th Congress adjourns on June 7.
The bill filed by Gatchalian seeks to increase the tobacco excise tax to P70 per pack by 2020, which will then be followed by a 9% annual increase in succeeding years.
“This week very critical, in fact very critical ito for most of the bills. Kung hindi ma-t-third reading any of the bills by Wednesday, mahihirapan nang maapprove ito at maging ganap na batas,” Gatchalian, one of the authors of the bill, said in an interview with dzBB.
“Ito ay ang assumption natin walang magtatanong o konti lang ang magtatanong, pero kung mahaba yung pagtatanong at mahaba yung pag a-amenda, tutulak ito ng susunod na linggo at pinakamahalaga dito ay masarado agad on third reading not later than on Wednesday sana para weekend bicam, then the following weekend, ratification,” he added.
According to Gatchalian, a sponsorship of the bill is needed by Monday in order to have an interpellation by at least Tuesday.
After that, a period for amendment on the excise bill may open on Wednesday that would lead to bicameral conference and ratification over following the weekend.
When asked if it was possible to have a session on Thursday or Friday, Gatchalian said: “Pwede rin naman. Pwede hong humingi ang executive side ng special session para madaliin.”
Gatchalian said that increasing the tax of tobacco products will not only discourage smokers but will also help fill the funding gap for the Universal Healthcare (UHC) program
An estimated P258 million is needed to fund the UHC’s first year of implementation in 2020. It aims to give PhilHealth coverage to all Filipinos. (Editor: Julie Espinosa)
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