Quantcast
Latest Stories

Medical Files

‘The good fight’

By

HEALTH ADVOCATES rejoiced this week with the expeditious passage of the “sin tax” bill in the Senate. President Aquino had earlier certified it as an urgent bill due to “public necessity” to curb harmful cigarette and excessive alcohol consumption.

The bill has found a champion in the Senate in Sen. Franklin Drilon. Immediately after he had taken over as chair of the ways and means committee, he and his staff had worked overtime to give form and substance to the substitute bill he proposed. “I am willing to do the hard work and willing to do the fight because this is the good fight,” he told a gathering of doctors and healthcare professionals at the Philippine General Hospital last week.

During the event, more than 20 medical and healthcare organizations gathered at the PGH to call on the Senate to stop delaying the passage of the lifesaving bill last Nov. 15. The Senate approved it on final reading on Nov. 20.

Final battlefront

The bill’s fate now depends on the bicameral conference committee, which is the final battlefront, or the third war, as Action for Economic Reforms (AER) coordinator Filomeno Sta. Ana metaphorically described it. “We won the war in the House. We won the war in the Senate. We have to win the war in the bicam. The bicam is the third chamber,” he said.

There’s some disparity between the target revenues proposed by both Houses, with the Senate version higher by P8.5 billion over the House version of the bill. The tax revenues in the House version is estimated to increase by 30 percent over a four-year period, with highest of P40.2 billion, while the Senate version projects a 63-percent increase within four years, peaking at P64.4 billion.

Prevent deaths

We hope the higher version prevails because we’re not talking here about revenues alone. This also translates to a likely number of lives which would be saved annually because of the reduction of the smoking rate, especially among the young. The measure is estimated to prevent 70,000 deaths a year and help subsidize the healthcare of almost a third of our population who are considered poor and unable to afford a decent healthcare.

I think the health objective of the battle has been achieved already. The financial aspect is likewise important, but actual lives which would be saved matter more.

When the bill is finally enacted into a law, the Philippines can now give the heads-up sign that it’s complying with its commitment as one of the more than 140 state-signatories to the United Nations-WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). As a State Party to the FCTC, the Philippines has pledged to integrate tobacco-control policies and measures into our national health and development strategies and programs. The future sin tax law will be a meaningful compliance of this commitment, which of course, is for our own people’s sake.

A setting for debacles

Although the fate of the “sin tax” bill is relatively clearer and brighter at this point, it is no reason for our health advocates to let their guard down. It seems like a won game, but it’s not over till it’s over. The bicam can still be a setting for debacles for those who fail to be vigilant. And I’m sure the AER and other health advocates know this very well.

It’s fair to expect the House version of the bill to be the worst-case scenario and the Senate version to be the best-case scenario, provided no other drastically negative amendments are inserted.

We just have to trust the bicam members on this since it’s a closed-door conference. It’s likely, considering next year’s elections, that “political considerations” would come into play, but we hope all the bicam members, especially the ones running for reelection, will rise above this and vote according to their conscience.

Let’s all pray that the bicam members will set aside all vested interests, and have the people’s best interest in mind when they decide on the final form of the bill.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Congress , health and wellness , sin tax bill



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Intrigues mar signing of Bangsamoro draft law
  • Singson apologizes for delay in Edsa road repairs
  • Congressmen seek end to small-town lottery operations
  • 16-year-old survives in wheel well of US flight
  • MMDA to blame for delay of Edsa reblocking – DPWH exec
  • Sports

  • Reigning champs Miami open playoffs with win
  • Spurs subdue Mavericks in playoff opener
  • Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters
  • Ageless Hopkins pitches 50-50 Mayweather deal
  • Goodbye MGM, Las Vegas for Pacquiao?
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • Lindsay Lohan says she had a miscarriage
  • Discovery network cancels Everest jump
  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Solenn in shorts
  • Business

  • Oil prices down in quiet Asian trade
  • Asian shares mixed in holiday-thinned trade
  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Golden Week
  • Technology

  • PH has slowest internet in Southeast Asia
  • Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks 25th anniversary
  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos in Middle East urged not to panic amid MERS-CoV scare
  • Obama on mission to quiet Asia skeptics
  • Search for Etihad passengers launched
  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • Marketplace