Sin Tax law advocates push petition in Senate

Posted on October 15, 2012

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The signature drive in Central Visayas that called for the passage of the sin tax bill gathered more than 50,000 signatures in about five months.

Organizers of the signature drive however claimed to have reached about a million people, if the Facebook likes and shares, and open letter from organizations are taken into consideration.

“The number is accumulated from three sources—the signature campaign, Facebook likes, and open letter endorsements from different leaders representing various groups,” Department of Health (DOH) 7 spokesperson Suzette Jabonete told Cebu Daily News.

The official Facebook page of the agency, DOH–Chd7, posted a campaign photo July 17 and received at least 781 likes and 625 shares.

“If we total the number of signatures from these sources, it has already reached one million,” Health Education and Promotion officer Ma. Ligaya Monera said.

These were obtained from “various sectors like hospitals, academe, local government units (LGUs), non-government associations (NGAs), non-government organizations (NGOs), private sector, civic groups, religious groups, and other advocates all over Central Visayas,” the report continued.

DOH-7 Regional Director Asuncion Anden requested Health Secretary Enrique Ona to endorse the Central Visayas petition of support to the Sin Tax Bill (HB 3249) to the Senate.

“We strongly believe that our moral obligation as stakeholders of health is to ensure quality life for all Filipinos in the context of good health,” the regional health chief said.

The open letter, dated Sept. 25 is addressed to the Senate who will decide whether or not the bill passes into a law. It has so far received 40 endorsements from various organizations and government institutions across the Central Visayas.

The letter, signed by multi-sectoral leaders, contained six explanations on why the bill is beneficial to Filipinos.

“(T)he Six Tax Bill is a health bill or an Anti-Cancer Bill, as its passage will eventually push prices of tobacco products high enough to reduce consumption and discourage the youth from smoking and encourage adults to quit,” the letter read.

The revenues from the collected tax, it continued, “will go to universal health Care of the Department of Health,.”

This includes the expansion of the National Health Insurance Program, upgrading of health Care Facilities and improving access to quality health care services, public health programs, research and development.

It said this is in keeping with the Millenium Goal objective of universal health care.

It went on by describing the bill as “anti-heart disease, anti-stroke, and anti-chronic obstructive pulmonary disease bill.” /Jessa J. Agua, Correspondent

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