Kill Bill!

Kill Bill is the name of a film with two parts directed by the multi-awarded, creative and unconventional director, Quentin Tarantino. The film is about revenge, bloody but just. The Bride or Black Mamba (Uma Thurman), after surviving a massacre, she being the target, and after being in coma for several years, becomes the avenger. She embarks on a mission to eliminate all those involved in the murderous plot, masterminded by the father of her daughter, named Bill (David Carradine).

The Kill Bill series came out in 2003-04. In 2012, Kill Bill is being resurrected in the Philippines. But this variant is not an extension of the legendary movie. It is a manipulation.

“Kill Bill!” is the title of a recent full-page ad to discredit the sin tax reform that has been ratified by both Houses of Congress. The ad likewise mocks some of the champions of the reform, namely Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Senator Frank Drilon, and Representative Isidro Ungab. The ad caricatures the three champions as killers, using Japanese swords to slash the Filipino masses.

The vested interests, especially the tobacco manufacturing monopoly whose super profits will be slashed because of the reform, are behind the ad. They use as conduit the “people”—the so-called People’s Coalition against Regressive Taxation—to spread deceiving propaganda.

The Kill Bill ad peddles the lie that the sin tax reform is anti-tobacco famer, anti-worker, pro-smuggling. Lies, in short.

The vested interests want to pit the tobacco farmers and workers against the Filipino people who will benefit from the sin tax reform. The farmers and workers, like all Filipinos, will benefit from the reform. The sin tax reform will save thousands of lives from the dangers of smoking and excessive drinking. It will generate the financing to provide universal health coverage, again mainly for the benefit of the poor. Smoking prevalence is highest among the poor, yet the poor cannot shoulder the costs of smoking-related diseases and in the same vein have little access to health care.

Further, the new sin tax law will earmark 20 percent of the incremental revenues (in the first year of the reform, this will be equivalent to approximately 6.5 billion pesos) for the welfare and alternative livelihood of tobacco farmers and workers.

Elsewhere, the reform advocates have argued that the tobacco industry’s claim of adverse impact on tobacco farmers and workers is exaggerated. Scholarly and evidence-based studies point out that the majority of tobacco farmers are not dependent on domestic tobacco consumption, since 70 percent of the produce is for export.

According to the World Bank, in a worst-case scenario, around 7,200 to 12, 000 farmers, those dependent on domestic consumption, will experience a significant decline in their sales of tobacco. This is still a small percentage of the total number of tobacco farmers, equivalent to between 13 percent and 22 percent of the 54, 337 farmers.Even then, research and practice show that the farmers can easily diversify products or shift from tobacco production to other cash crops. Furthermore, the earmarking of 20 percent of incremental revenues for tobacco farmers provides a big buffer to the small percentage of farmers who will bear the burden of adjustment.

Contrary to the claim of the Kill Bill! ad that the sin tax reform is insensitive to the plight of workers, the bill that the Senate and the House of Representatives has ratified includes a provision to provide adjustment support for those workers who face possible displacement.

The ad also makes a wrong claim that the reform will encourage smuggling. In fact, it contains anti-smuggling measures. These are the posting of bonds for both import and export of tobacco products and the adoption of unique, secure and non-removable identification markings on tobacco products and distilled spirits.

That Philip Morris and allies continue to spend huge resources to discredit the sin tax reform even after the ratification of Congress is a sign that they are badly hurt. They thus have every incentive to sabotage the reform.

Part of their revenge is to portray the champions like Purisima, Drilon, and Ungab in a bad light.

The tasks now of advocates is to preserve the gains from the sin tax reform and defeat the counter-attack of vested interests. In this regard, we rise up to defend the honor and integrity of our government champions.

We salute Messrs. Purisima, Drilon, Ungab and the other government champions for their firm leadership, deep conviction and exceptional courage to have the sin tax reform passed. They epitomize the kind of government leaders that the country needs to realize the hardest of reforms.

Bill in the movie Kill Bill symbolizes not the good but the villain. “Kill Bill” does not target the good and the just. “Kill Bill” should slay vested interests that harm the public good, The Bride in Kill Bill stands for the good guys—Purisima, Drilon, Ungab, Abads, Ona, Henares, and a cast of thousands.

They are the good Avengers. Just like the movies, the Bride or the Avengers will again prevail in the next war.

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