Aquino certifies Senate sin tax bill as urgent
MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III has certified Senate Bill 3299 or the sin tax reform bill as urgent, ensuring its passage as early as Monday, November 19, the bill's sponsor, Senator Franklin Drilon, announced.
In a statement, Drilon, chairman of the Senate ways and means committee, said the President signed the certification Friday, a day before he leaves for Cambodia to attend the 21st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit.
“The President certified as urgent the sin tax reform bill for he believes the passage of this very important piece of legislation will buttress government health agenda and address the high prevalence of smoking in the country,” said Drilon.
The certification, according to the senator, will allow the Senate to vote on the measure on second and third reading without having to observe the 3-day interval rule under the Constitution.
The rule states that unless certified by the President as urgent, a bill must undergo 3 readings on 3 separate days for it to be passed.
Drilon's statement quoted the President as saying SB 3299 must be passed immediately "to address the urgent need to restructure the excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products in order to enhance the revenue generating potential of the tax system and utilize the incremental revenues therefrom to augment funding for the universal healthcare program."
Drilon's bill aims to raise additional P40 billion revenues from higher excise taxes. The figure is bigger than the P15 billion to P20 billion in the Senate version originally proposed by Senator Ralph Recto, and close to the P60 billion target of the executive branch.
“We are in the final stretch. We are only one step farther before the passage of this bill; but, certainly, without the support of the President, we would not have gone this far,” said Drilon.
Nov 19 target
Interpellations on SB 3299 ended Wednesday, November 14, and the period of individual amendments will begin Monday, November 19. Drilon said the Senate can go into a vote and ratify the bill the same day.
“I am confident that our colleagues have seen and realized the importance of this reform measure to a great majority both as a health measure and as a finance bill. I am confident that they will vote for its passage when session resumes on Monday,” he said.
Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos doubts, however, that debates on the amendments could be finished by Monday.
Marcos, who hails from the tobacco-growing province of Ilocos Norte, said he, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Ralph Recto and Panfilo Lacson will introduce changes to the measure.
"We might not finish by Monday but we will try because the budget is already there," noted Marcos.
Senators had targeted to pass the sin tax bill before plenary debates on another priority measure -- the P2-trillion 2013 national budget -- start. - Rappler.com
More on the Sin tax bill:
- ‘Aquino phone calls needed for better sin tax bill’
- Palace banks on sin tax bill for hospital upgrades
- Drilon’s ‘weight loss’ plan? Sin tax, budget by year-end
- Lower sin tax, less health care for poor
- BISYO: A special report on Sin Tax
- Vitug Vlogs: Aquino's ratings and the sin tax bill
- 'Revenues from sin tax bill to contain 2013 PH deficit'
- Half of Pinoy smokers likely to quit if sin taxes increase - survey