SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
On its first hearing on Tuesday, the House Committee on Ways and Means chaired by Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda (2nd District, Albay) unanimously approved House Bill No. 1026, seeking to amend Republic Act No. 8424 or the “National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997” by raising the rate of alcohol excise tax to 10 percent in the Philippines.
The panel was able to expedite the passage of the measure by implementing Section 48 of the House Rules which stipulates: “In case of bills or resolutions that are identified as priority measures of the House, which were previously filed in the immediately preceding Congress and have been approved on 3rd reading, the same may be disposed of as matters already reported upon the approval of majority of the Members of the committee present, there being a quorum. The committee secretary shall immediately prepare the necessary committee reports on said measures for inclusion in the Calendar of Business.”
All 43 House Members present voted in favor of HB 1026, which adopted the version approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives during the 17th Congress .
In his explanatory note of the bill, Salceda stated that the increase of alcohol excise tax intends to generate funding for the country’s social services and the government’s infrastructure programs.
Salceda further noted that the bill aims to discourage the excessive consumption of alcohol, and in so doing, reduce accidents caused by driving under the influence as well as its harmful effects on the health of its consumers.
These were echoed by several House Members who authored measures that sought the same amendment to the NIRC.
Rep. Horacio Suansing Jr. (2nd District, Sultan Kudarat), author of HB 177, said in his sponsorship speech that “This is in response to the call of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in his 2019 State of the Nation Address to increase the taxes on alcoholic products, to fund the Universal Healthcare Act…This measure will discourage excessive consumption of alcohol.”
For his part, Majority Floor Leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, author of HB 2467, said his bill aims “To provide additional funding source for the Universal Healthcare Law…This additional funding will help sustain PhilHealth coverage for all Filipino families."
Romualdez further said the measure shall discourage excessive consumption of alcohol products, especially among the youth, as it will reduce alcohol-related diseases and detrimental incidences such as drunk driving and domestic abuse.
Veteran lawmakers Reps. Junie Cua (1st District, Quirino), Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and Ann Hofer (2nd District, Zamboanga Sibugay), authors of House Bill Nos. 2083, 3283 and 3357,respectively, also expressed the same sentiment and position.
Meanwhile, Rep. Michael John Duavit (1st District, Rizal) assured Committee Members who were not Members of the 17th Congress that the measure was extensively deliberated on.
Duavit, however, raised that there really is a need to fast-track approval of the bill, as being a revenue measure, it can greatly affect funding of the 2020 National Budget.
The Committee Secretariat was then directed to draft the committee report, which will be forwarded to the Rules Committee and thereafter discussed in the Plenary Session.| Molie Gonzales, News and Documentation Section-Press and Public Affairs Bureau/ House of Representatives of the Philippines