Cigarette smokers and the tobacco industry have finally found an ally in Congress as Solid North Alliance leader and Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson on Tuesday slammed the alleged moves by anti-smoking groups to stampede the legislature into approving another round of tax increases on tobacco products.
Another tax increase on tobacco products, Singson warned, would kill an industry supporting the livelihood of millions of Filipinos in three regions in Luzon.
“They want the industry that feeds millions destroyed but they offer nothing to help the adversely affected tobacco farmers and workers survive,” Singson said.
Singson, head of the Solid North Alliance composed of lawmakers from Luzon, said the lawmakers representing the organization will strongly oppose the legislative measures that will increase the tobacco excise tax to P90 from P35 per pack.
“The industry will not be able to take another round of increase. We will not allow these bills to hurt our people,” Singson said.
Anti-tobacco groups are lobbying for the passage of the proposed tax increase despite the imposition of excise tax adjustments provided under the much-criticized 2017 Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act.
According to Singson, the bills filed by Senators Emmanuel Pacquiao and Joseph Victor Ejercito call for a new round of excise tax hikes on tobacco products that will finally kill the tobacco industry.
In the House of Representatives, Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, the principal author of Republic Act 10963, or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or TRAIN Law, filed House Bill 4575 proposing the restructuring of the excise tax on tobacco products.
Singson said tobacco farmers and workers had become mere “collaterals who have to absorb the severe economic effects of the sin tax law.”
“While we cooperate in the moves to regulate smoking, we will work to prevent the destruction of the only means of livelihood of our farmers,” Singson said.
“These anti-smoking activists will not stop until they have destroyed the tobacco industry.”