Singson hits Pacquiao on raising tobacco taxes anew: He can’t understand farmers will suffer
MANILA, Philippines — Former Ilocos Sur governor and incumbent Narvacan town Mayor Luis “Chavit” Singson has accused his long-time friend, Senator Manny Pacquiao, of not using his brain for proposing higher excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol.
According to him, Pacquiao’s call could hurt tobacco farmers in the long run because while his town and the province of Ilocos Sur may actually benefit from the proposal since it means more income from sin taxes, it may result in lower demand as additional levy could also push prices higher.
Pacquiao has been an advocate of raising taxes on tobacco products to boost funds to support the government’s universal healthcare program.
“Eh kasi pinasok niya ‘yong issue na ‘yan nang di niya alam ‘yong sinasabi niya. ‘Pag tinaas ‘yong excise tax ng sigarilyo, tumataas ‘yong kita namin sa probinsya. Meaning, in short, nagbebenefit kami ‘pag tinaas. Kaya ‘ka ko, sobra na. Makikinabang kami eh, pero sobra na,” Singson said in a phone interview with INQUIRER.net.
(It’s because he is raising that issue while he does not know what he is talking about. If you raise the excise tax on cigarettes, our income in the province actually increases. Meaning, in short, we benefit from higher taxes. But for me, it’s too much. We will benefit, but it’s already too much.)
READ: Raising tax on tobacco will help fund universal health care — Pacquiao
“Hindi niya alam nine times nang tumaas. Hindi niya naiintindihan, nine times na tinaas, eh sobra na. Baka mamatay ‘yong industriya ‘ka ko, mawawalan ng hanap-buhay ang tao, mawawalan din ng pera ang gobyerno. So sobra na ang taxes, ‘yon lang,” he added.
(He doesn’t know that it has increased nine times already. He does not understand, it increased nine times, it’s already too much. I fear that the industry might perish, people may lose livelihood, the government might also lose funds. So too much taxes already, that’s all.)
READ: More taxes on ‘sin products’ eyed
Singson also chided Pacquiao — who is running for president in the 2022 national elections — for boasting that he cannot be controlled after he went against Singson’s wishes regarding the excise tax.
“Up to now hindi niya maintindihan, ‘yong issue na ‘yan hindi niya maintindihan. Syempre ‘pag tinaas mo ang kita namin, ‘wag mo itaas dahil sobra na, nine times na ang tinaas ng taxes. Kawawa ang industriya, masisira ang industriya kung matutuloy ang tax. Hindi niya maintindihan ‘yon up to now,” Singson explained.
(Up to now he doesn’t understand the issue. Of course, if you raise our income, you should already stop because it’s already too much, it has increased nine times. The industry will suffer if such a tax increase will push through. He could not understand that up to now.)
“(He said) ‘Hindi ko pinagbigyan ang kumpare ko […] nagyabang pa eh mali naman ‘yong yabang niya. So ‘di niya ginagamit ang utak niya masyado,” he added.
(He said ‘I did not give in to the wishes of my close friend’ … He even boasted about it but his bragging was misplaced. So he did not use his brain that much.)
Singson’s statement came after Pacquiao admitted last Friday that the Ilocos Sur kingpin had already withdrawn his support for him after he allegedly stood for “what is right.”
Pacquiao, a world-acclaimed boxer, said he was left hanging by Singson just because he prioritized the country’s welfare.
Singson, who used to be a regular in Pacquiao’s entourage during boxing bouts, was notably missing during the senator’s last fight against Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas in August.
READ: Pacquiao, Chavit Singson part ways after disagreement over ‘sin’ tax
As to whether they can still patch things up, Singson said it remains possible as he had mended spats many times with his political opponents — from the Crisologo family up to former president Joseph Estrada (Erap), whose presidency fell partly due to damning testimonies from then-governor Singson.
But it may take time, Singson admitted.
“‘Pag natalo na siya. Lahat naman ng nakakalaban ko sa politics, lahat-lahat, including the Crisologos, including Erap, so ako hindi problema,” he said when asked about a possible reconciliation with Pacquiao. “Always, I’m always for reconciliation. Pero it will take time, so antayin kong matalo siya.”
(When he loses. All of my political opponents, all of them including the Crisologos, including Erap, so it’s not a problem for me. Always, I’m always for reconciliation. But it will take time, so I will wait until he loses in the election.)
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