The public hearing on tobacco excise tax at the House of Representatives by the Committee on Ways and Means last Monday, 13 December, barely lasted 2 hours. Nevertheless, three of our champions in Congress – Rep. Niel Tupas, Rep. Dina Abad, and Rep. Henry Teves, brought to light very important questions that the sub-committee chairman, Rep. Eric Singson (representative from tobacco-industry-friendly Ilocos Sur) acknowledged as pertinent to the deliberation process.
The speeches of Rep. Tupas and Rep. Abad explaining the
bills they filed were very strong offensive positioning as they challenged the tobacco industry to comment and give their position on the proposals. they also asked Rep. Singson to allow them to invite resource persons who can shed more light on the discussion of the technical working group that will be convened soon.
The committee hearing was a good step for civil society as the presence of the key champions showed that there is a chance to steer the deliberations towards a more improved, health-friendly tobacco tax.
Present during the meeting were members of the medical community – Philippine Medical Association, Philippine College of Physicians represented by Dr. Maricar Limpin, Chair of the Advocacy Committee and Philippine College of
Chest Physicians represented by its President, Dr. Abundio Balgos; SITT/SEATCA, represented by Ms. Jeng Reyes, other tobacco control advocates, and representatives from the tobacco industry.
(by Ms. May-I Fabros, Comm Manager of HealthJustice and Ms. Joyce Sierra, Comm Manager of FCAP)