Philippines: Tobacco tax hike to help fund health care law: Sen. Ejercito

29 November 2018

MANILA — Higher excise taxes on tobacco products will help fund the Universal Health Care Law, a senator who sought to raise the levy said Thursday.

Senator JV Ejercito said he sought to raise the tobacco tax to P90 per pack, higher than the P60 proposed by Sen. Manny Pacquiao and P45 in the House of Representatives.

The Senate and House approved a bicameral committee report on the Universal Health Care Law, paving the way for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing.

“Right now I have already filed an increase in sin taxes, particularly in tobacco tax because in the Asian market, we have still the lowest, if not the lowest, price of tobacco products per pack,” said Ejercito, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health.

Aside from increasing the coverage of the national health insurance to 100 percent, the proposed Universal Health Care Law will also provide annual checkups and laboratory tests, said Ejercito, who is seeking reelection in 2019.

“People go to the hospital when they are already very sick. We want to strengthen the preventive side of the health care,” he said.