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People's Journal

People's Journal

Sugar-sweetened beverages tax too high for consumers

BANTAY Konsumer, Kalsada, Kuryente (BK3) expressed support to the Philippine Association of Stores and Carinderia Owners (PASCO) in its campaign against the proposed excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).

According to BK3, over  300,000 signatures from across the country have already been gathered by PASCO to oppose the tax measure forwarded by House Bill 5636, part of the government’s banner tax reform program dubbed as “TRAIN.”

Based on PASCO’s computations, 40 percent of the daily income of store owners comes from the sales of drinks such as juices and flavored instant coffee in sachets. The proposal could double or even triple the prices of these products, which are consumed by ordinary consumers on a daily basis.

“Unsurprisingly, the poor view the proposed excise tax as “unfair”  and “oppressive,” a stand shared by manufacturers and retailers,” said BK3 convenor Louie Montemar.

The House of Representatives has already approved the “sweet tax,”  which imposes a P10 to P20 tax per liter depending on the source of the sugar content.  HB 5636 levies an excise tax of P10 per liter on drinks with local sugar and P20 on beverages with imported sugar or sweeteners.
    
“We understand that the government needs to generate revenues to support its programs. However, the proposed excise tax could only worsen the already difficult life of low-income consumers.  There are others development schemes and revenue options that could be considered,” Montemar said.
 
“One, to fund its ambitious infrastructure projects, it could shift to a Public-Private-Partnership model instead of appropriating funds from the country’s budget. That would free up government resources to help the poor instead of imposing additional burden on them,”  he added.
    
Montemar said the legislators can revise the excise tax proposal.  The office of Sen. JV Ejercito offers an alternative excise tax scheme for SSB’s that is worth considering.
    
“Also, instead of imposing an additional burden, government should focus its revenue-generation program on stopping revenue leaks from smuggling, illicit trade, poor tax collection, and corruption. A multi-industry study by the University of Asia and the Pacific (UAP) found out that illicit traders were able to smuggle at least P904.6 billion worth of goods into the country over five years. Revenue from those illegal activities could easily cover whatever revenue is generated from the SSB tax,” Montemar said.
    
According to Montemar, health concerns related to the consumption of sugary drinks and obesity are relatively weak. But data from the 2017 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World by the Food and Agriculture Organization showed that undernutrition and not obesity is the more serious problem in the Philippines..
    
He said the prevalence of undernutrition among Filipino children is 13.8 percent higher than the prevalence of overweight children at five  percent and the prevalence of obesity among adults at 5.2 percent.
 
“ We support PASCO’s challenge on the proposed SSB excise tax.  We are all consumers. This can burden millions of low income Filipino consumers.  We call on our legislators to prioritize the welfare of consumers,”  Montemar said.

  • Published in Nation

Senate asked to revise TRAIN

A CONSUMER’S group yesterday said if passed into law, the proposed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) under the Senate Committee on Ways and Means chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara, will remove the VAT exemptions currently given for socialized, economic and low-cost housing units.

The VAT exemptions cost between P450,000 to P3.2 million per unit.

Rodolfo Javellana Jr. of the Union of Filipino Consumers and Commuters (UFCC) expressed fear that this “spells bad news for the 15 million overseas Filipinos workers trying to earn a decent living away from their families and the rest of our kababayans planning to buy their own homes.”

Javellana said that with the current prices for socialized, economic, and low-cost housing, even workers with a take home pay of P30,000 a month can barely afford a decently sized house and lot.

“If the Senate will agree to increase housing prices to anywhere from P50,000 to P360,000 per unit by imposing VAT, our OFWs and homeless citizens can say goodbye to their dream of owning a piece of property for their families,” he said, underscoring that buyers will take the full brunt of the tax burden as VAT in an after-sales tax.
    
The UFCC appealed to Angara to heed their call and delete the controversial TRAIN provision on housing for the sake of the homeless, which the government estimates to be at least 5.7 million families or more.
    
Javellana stressed that not all provisions of TRAIN is bad, since government tax collectors are good, running after tax evaders and corrupt tax collectors.
    
Housing the poor is a constitutional mandate but government has done little to comply with this, allocating a measly P15.36 billion for the Housing sector for 2017 despite a housing crisis, and instead relying on private developers to build houses for the poor in exchange for tax benefits.

  • Published in Nation

Body cams needed in drug war – ‘Bato’

PHILIPPINE National Police chief Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. de la Rosa on Friday said that once ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte to resume their war on drugs, he will see to it that they will first procure body cameras which should be worn by his men each time they conduct an anti-narcotics operation.

De la Rosa said the “PNP is always ready to return to action” once given by the President the go-signal but needs to rethink its strategies. “If we assume the war on drugs, first, pipilitin naming makabili ng body cameras na gagamitin ng aming mga operatiba. I will insist on that,” he said.

Body cams, the PNP chief said, will protect both the police and the subject of operations since it will record what actually took place during an anti-narcotics mission.

The PNP chief admitted learning from the mistakes they committed during their previous war on drugs. “Ang pagkakamali naming eh sobrang gigil ng ibang mga tao naming at hindi na-cleanse agad ang aming ranks para hindi masakyan ng mga hunyango,” he said.

He referred to rogues in uniform who took advantage of the crackdown against illegal drug trafficking and abuse they launched on July 1 last year to engage in criminal acts like robbery-extortion and murder.
    
There were also the cases of some policemen, including some Caloocan City police personnel, who were accused of deliberately killing known drug offenders.
    
Gen. de la Rosa however said that their ongoing internal cleansing is achieving its desired results. “Lately konti ang huli namin, meaning konti ang reklamo sa CITF (Counter-Intelligence Task Force),” he said.
    
Maraming nagbabago na sa mga tiwaling pulis dahil sa marami ang nauhuli, marami ang kinukulong ng CITF,” he said.
    
The PNP chief last month welcomed the decision of President Duterte to stop the police’s war on drugs as it will allow them to concentrate on fighting criminality in the streets particularly those being committed by motorcycle-riding assassins and robbers.
    
However, he said that although they have totally stopped their anti-narcotics campaign, he will personally ask the President to let them return to the battle if worst comes to worst.
    
Personally, the PNP chief said he wants to help the President in his war on drugs. “I know deep inside mga anak ko, they can go to the schools unmolested. Pero ngayon kung babalik na naman sila, baka mamolestya anak ko,” said the top cop who will be retiring from the police service this coming January.
    
“But if things get worse and talagang hindi kakayanin, so  kailangan sabihin ko sa kanya siguro, Sir pabalikin niyo kami dahil kawawa naman ang pamilya natin. Ako na ang aapela if that time comes.”
    
Gen. de la Rosa said he even thanked the president for his decision. “Ang sabi ko yes, salamat Sir at  pahinga na rin kami. Pagod na rin kami. Actually talagang pagod na pagod na ang tao ko,” he explained of the police’s one-year-and-a-half major role infighting illegal drug trafficking and abuse.
    
He said that the words Oplan: Tokhang and Project: Double Barrel have been strongly associated with the PNP’s name and the fact will also remain that police lost 76 of its men with dozens wounded too in the drug war.
    
“I lost a lot of my men in this war. Maraming patay, maraming sugatan, maraming pamilya na nagdudurusa at syempre me namatay na drug personalities. Marami din na tao doon policemen ko man o drug personalities, buhay pa rin ng tao yun,” he said.
 
Gen. de la Rosa however lamented the president’s move. “Nanghihinayang talaga ako at hindi naman ako plastic na hindi nanghihinayang. Parang babalik na naman tayo sa o Halleluyah na naman ang mga drug pushers sa pulis. Matagal silang gutom matagal silang walang kita matagal silang wala, ngayon walang pulis para makialam sa kanila, eh di Halleluyah,” he said.

Lascuña wins PGTA WW title

Tony Lascuña pulled through with a near-impeccable closing two-under 70, beating American Nicolas Paez by two for the ICTSI Wack Wack crown as erstwhile joint leaders Zanieboy Gialon, Thai Pasavee Lertvilai and Justin Quiban crumbled in a pressure-packed finale at Wack Wack’s East course yesterday.

Lascuña, who missed forcing a four-way tie for the lead with a final-hole bogey Friday, surged ahead with back-to-back birdies from No. 2 in second-to-last flight then held sway to the finish, banging in a clutch birdie putt on No. 14 then rattling off a slew of gutsy pars to match the rallying Paez’s two-under card.

He wound up with a two-under 286 and pocketed the top $17,500 purse, keeping the Filipinos’ domination of the first four legs of the inaugural Philippine Golf Tour Asia put up by ICTSI after Miguel Tabuena (Southwoods), Rene Menor (Splendido) and Clyde Mondilla (Riviera).

“It’s nice to win again. But I had to work hard to put myself back into contention,” said Lascuña, who rushed back to the range after trailing Gialon by five halfway through the $100,000 event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
    
“I also polished my putting stroke, medyo magalaw kasi. And when I pulled to within one after the third round, I knew I had a chance,” added the multi-titled veteran campaigner, who bounced back from a missed green bogey on No. 12 with a birdie from six feet on No. 14.
    
As Gialon, Lertvilai and Quiban all broke down in their hunt for birdies and pars in the featured flight and tumbled down the leaderboard, Paez took the challenger’s role but ran out of holes after stringing three straight birdies from No. 15. He settled for second with an even 288 and snatched the $11,500 runner-up prize.

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