Press release – Action for Economic Reforms – 6 November 2012

As the Sin Tax bill enters the crucial plenary debates, health advocates urge legislators to pass a measure that will protect more hearts and lives of Filipinos.

In a press conference on Tuesday, President of the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) Dr. Saturnino Javier expressed the organization’s support for Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s measure.

“We strongly support this anti-stroke and anti-heart attack measure,” said Javier. “Any move or campaign that will benefit people who may stand to suffer from heart diseases, PHA will always be behind this move.”

He added, “It is no coincidence that in the Philippines where the tobacco industry is very strong and the prevalence of smoking is very high that this is the number one killer.”

Philippine Health Statistics showed that since 1990, diseases of the heart have been the number 1 cause of deaths in the country. Furthermore, mortality rates have increased by 500% in over 50 years – an average increase of 10% every year.

Javier stressed, “[Smoking] is an eternally-lit time bomb waiting to wreak havoc any time, on any Filipino, on any family, whether you’re poor, rich, young, old, female or male.”

And wreak havoc, it did.

A 2011 study by Dr. Antonio Dans from the UP College of Medicine revealed that an estimated total of 7,373 Filipinos died of a stroke. Roughly 37% of them are those aged 20 to 59 – productive, working members of society.

The study further showed that 8,214 Filipinos died due to coronary artery disease the same year, with an estimated 41% dying a premature death.

“We cannot stand idle as Filipinos partake of a commodity for death, disease, addiction and self-destruction,” declared Javier.

The PHA joined the likes of the Philippine College of Physicians, the Philippine College of Chest Physicians, the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology and the Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine in backing Senator Santiago’s version of the bill.