Press release – Action for Economic Reforms – 24 October 2012

Health and sin tax reform advocates reminded Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile that in the past, he supported the protection of public health through higher sin taxes.

Maricar Limpin of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance said that in 2004, Enrile filed Senate bill 1815, or his own proposal of a sin tax bill at that time.

In his Explanatory Note of his Senate Bill, Enrile wrote: “Admittedly, excise taxation of certain products can be put to use to accomplish diverse goals in national policy. For instance, it can be used simply under the taxing power of the State to raise revenue. It can also be employed under the police power of the State to deter or discourage the consumption of products deemed inimical to the health of the people. Or it can be employed for both reasons: to provide revenue for the government and to protect the health of the community.”

Limpin said Enrile’s version of the bill was “the best during that time.”

“What the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona showed is that Senate President Enrile listens to the clamor of the people,” Limpin said.

“How people perceive him or how people will remember him matters, as evident in his recent memoirs. He supported sin taxes then and we are hoping he would support a good sin tax bill now,” she added.

Tony Dans of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine said the Senate President “knows fully well the power of the state to use either its power to tax or its police powers to protect the health of the public.”

“With his need to remember and be remembered, perhaps it’s time to remind him that all that he’s questioning now regarding the sin tax bill, he answered and advocated for before,” Dans said.

Filomeno Sta. Ana of the Action for Economic Reform said in a recent newspaper column that the “essence” of Enrile’s 2004 bill can be “found in the (sin tax) bills now being deliberated in the Senate.”

“What Mr. Enrile proposed in 2004 can now be realized. The essential role of Enrile to pass the reforms he proposed as far back as 2004 is indisputable. That will be history in the making,” Sta. Ana said.

In recent interviews, Enrile said he favors the version of the sin tax bill filed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago which hopes to net P60 billion taxes from alcohol and cigarettes.