Philippines: Duterte certifies as urgent bill on higher tobacco excise tax

28 May 2019
Darryl John Esguerra 

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent Senate Bill No. 2233 which seeks to increase the excise tax on tobacco products.

Duterte signed the certification of urgency on Tuesday, said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who was named officer-in-charge (OIC) of the executive department while the President is in Japan for a four-day visit.

“Signed na ‘yung certification of urgency for SB 2233. On its way to the Senate,” Guevarra told reporters in a text message.

When the President certifies a measure as urgent, Congress may immediately pass the bill on third and final reading after its approval on second reading.

SB 2233 is seeking a major increase in the cigarette excise tax from 2020 to 2023.

The bill proposes a starting rate of P45, or P10 in the first year of implementation, which will be followed by an annual P5 increase until the rate reaches P60. After this, the tax would automatically increase by five percent annually.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri earlier said the Senate is planning to end the plenary debates on SB 2233 and pass it on third and final reading on Wednesday or Monday as the17th Congress is scheduled to adjourn on June 7.

In the House of Representatives, House Bill 8677 pegged the tobacco tax hike at P37.50 to P45 per pack until 2022, which would increase by four percent every year thereafter.

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