A rally to raise excise taxes on alcohol and electronic cigarettes greeted lawmakers Monday morning as the Senate resumed session after a one month recess.   

The National Sin Tax Coalition conducted the rally to Sen. Pia Cayetano’s Senate Bill 1074 which seeks to align the tax rate of heated tobacco products and vape with traditional cigarettes and significantly raise the tax on alcoholic beverages.

Cayetano said she is very hopeful the measure will pass before Christmas.

The National Sin Tax Coalition, including the Action on Smoking and Health Philippines, and Social Watch Philippines, believed the measure will be vital to discourage the consumption of such products, particularly by the youth, which they believed was being targeted by e-cigarettes and heated tobacco through various flavors including candy and fruit inspired variants.   

But Department of Finance (DOF) USec. Karl Chua, as well as Sen. Cayetano admitted even with the passage of the law, they expect the products will remain in demand.

Cayetano is banking on that continuous demand to help raise much needed funding for health initiatives including the Universal Health Care Law which has an estimated funding shortfall of P63 billion.   

All that remains, she said, is which rates to adopt.

Cayetano said her committee is also ready to move forward with the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA)

She said they are just waiting for the DOF to conclude discussions with stakeholders that included the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

PEZA previously said it would push for the law to retain gross income earned taxes for existing locators to help them transition between the old and new incentives regimes.     

The higher sin taxes will be taken up in the Senate plenary session on Tuesday. (Jasper Camilo)