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Lawmakers oppose tax on salted food products

/ 04:21 PM October 31, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Several lawmakers from both the Senate and the House of Representatives have opposed a Department of Health (DOH) proposal to place tax on salted foods, like daing and tuyo (dried fish) which are considered staple food of poor families.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, his colleagues Senators Panfilo Lacson and Imee Marcos, plus House member Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate slammed the proposal, which they said is anti-poor.

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“I think they are now going overboard, why is the DOH meddling with our food?” Sotto said, when asked by reporters for his side of the issue. “It is okay to tax cigarettes and alcoholic drinks, but what to eat and not to eat is a stretch. They would increase prices so we could not eat? It’s silly!”

“DOH should not pursue its plan to impose sin tax on daing, tuyo, noodles and other similar foods of the poor. If it’s a genuine health issue, they better find another way to regulate consumption. There are many ‘health-hazard’ foods on the dining tables of the rich and affluent,” Lacson said in a tweet.

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Meanwhile, Zarate said that it is ‘ironic’ for the government to push for higher taxes in products that poor people consume, while Congress passed a bill that would lower the income tax of corporations.

Zarate was referring to the Trabaho Bill, or the second tranche of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

“It is not the sin of the poor that they can only afford a poor people’s diet. It is their concrete present abject condition in our country that prevent them from getting healthy food,” Zarate explained, before throwing a pun, “Our warning then: Thou shall not tax salt because it is ‘asin.’”

“Because of this, people from the lower income groups cannot afford to buy daing, tuyo, noodles, or sardines because the prices of these goods are already high due to the TRAIN law. We must remember that these food are also often distributed as relief goods,” he added.

Marcos on the other hand urged government to pursue taxing rich corporations instead of the poor who rely on these inexpensive food.

“Tuyo and daing are the food of the poor, I hope they are not serious, why don’t they tax the big telecommunication companies, mining companies that do not follow the law, big time importer of oil and others? It would be a rare collection of taxes but a big one,” she said.

On Thursday, DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo revealed that the department is considering the taxing of salted foods, as it may bring a positive outcome on public health. He said that cutting down on salty food would decrease the risk of hypertension, and heart and kidney diseases.

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READ: Taxing everything, even the lowly ‘daing’

Senator Koko Pimentel said the move should be studied, although he is open to additional tax on supposedly unhealthy junk food.

“We need to study that very well ‘cause the tax might be imposed on food items consumed by the poorer sections of the society,” he told reporters in a message.

“But tax on junk food, I am very open to that. Just define junk food very well,” he added. /je

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TAGS: Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, Department of Health, DoH, House of Representatives, Philippine news updates, salty food, Senate, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senator Imee Marcos, Senator Panfilo Lacson, Tax
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