20 November 2012
Militants Urge Senators to Quit Using the
Peoples' Health to Justify a Sin Tax Law
Five thousand workers and urban poor assaulted the Senate gates once again to reiterate their demand for the Senators to scrap the sin tax bill version of Senator Franklin Drilon because of the profound consequences on the lives and livelihoods of more than three million tobacco workers, planters and their families.
The contingent of workers and urban poor were affiliates of the anti-sin alliance, Peoples Coalition Against Regressive Taxation or PCART. The coalition has consistently insisted that the Aquino regime is laying down a regressive system of taxation hiding behind its Universal Healthcare Program. PCART does not have any qualms with the government's universal healthcare program as long it will truly serve the poor majority of our countrymen. The sin tax bill is the opposite of such an objective.
The militant workers called out to the Senators but most specially to Senator Drilon to shed their questionable pro-health posturing and once and for all admit that it is the projected tax revenues from tobacco and alcohol products are what they are really salivating about.
According to Gie Relova, Secretary-General of the National Capital Region and Rizal chapter of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP-NCRR), "How did Drilon manage to become the number one health advocate in the Senate when he is a rabid promoter of shifting our public health services towards a profit orientation?".
Senator Drilon is the author of Senate Bill 3130 or the National Government Hospital Corporate Restructuring that gives fiscal autonomy to hospitals to raise income for its operations and in doing so, it cuts off its dependence on government subsidy. The bill intends to corporatize twenty-six public hospitals including the San Lazaro Hospital and the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, both in Manila.
"It has been reported already in the press that the tax collection from the sin products has already been included in the 2013 budget, 2013 being an election year. The budget of the government needs to be ballooned to accommodate financial requisites of the electoral campaign of its candidates. Its just a matter of connecting the dots," Relova explained.
"The soon to be victims of the sin tax bill are aware that no amount of propaganda spinning and cosmetic publicity shall ever be enough to cover-up the massacre of jobs and livelihoods by the fervent campaigners of the sin tax bill" Relova concluded.
The BMP urges that the Senate must focus its attention on issues that have definite and direct improvements in the lives of the Filipino workers. The Senate must tackle issues such as the plague of contractualization of labor, the housing crisis, the rising gap between the workers' wages and the prices of basic commodities and rising costs of utilities.