Press Release – Action for Economic Reforms – 17 October 2012

The Action for Economic Reform welcomed on Tuesday the designation of Sen. Franklin Drilon as acting chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee after Sen. Ralph Recto resigned from his position as chair.

Filomeno Sta. Ana said Drilon would be in a better position to craft a sin tax bill that would increase revenue from alcohol and cigarettes, reduce their consumption and allot more funds to health care to treat those afflicted with diseases caused by these products.

“Sen. Drilon has solid grasp of the issues. He is an experienced and politically astute legislator,” Sta. Ana said.

Most of all, Sta. Ana stressed that Drilon “is known as a champion of public health.”

“Thus, we have all the confidence in his leadership to steer the passage of a better more relevant and responsive bill,” Sta. Ana said.

Already, Drilon has said Recto’s version could be used as a springboard for amendments in the plenary. He also said he would make sure government would get its P60 billion in revenues.

Recto drew flak after his version of the sin tax bill was criticized by the Palace, sin tax reform advocates and civil society.

Palace executives said they were disappointed with the amount of revenues to be generated by Recto’s law. The administration had hoped to raise P60 billion but under Recto’s law, only P15 billion would be raised.

Health advocates and civil society said Recto’s bill was a virtual copy of the recommendations of Philip Morris and would not curb consumption of the products, leading to more deaths and more resources to be spent.