By Hannah Torregoza
The Senate on Monday approved on the third and final reading the measure seeking to raise the excise tax on tobacco products.
Senate Bill No. 2233, which proposes a staggering increase of excise tax per cigarette pack starting from January 2020 to 2023, garnered 20 votes, zero negative votes, zero abstention.
The bill has been certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The measure aims to reduce the prevalence of smoking among Filipinos and raise funding for the continuous implementation of the government’s Universal Health Care (UHC) program.
It was Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, chair of the Senate ways and means panel, who sponsored the measure.
Once signed into law, the scheduled increase would be as follows: P45 per pack increase effective Jan. 1, 2020 until Dec. 31, 2021, P50 in Jan. 2021, P55 per pack in Jan. 2022 and P60 per pack effective Jan. 1, 2023.
After 2023, there would be a 5 percent annual increase effective January 1, 2024.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the House of Representatives have committed on adopting the Senate version so they do not have to go through a bicameral conference committee.
If this happens, the measure will be sent immediately to Malacañang for the President’s signature.
The Senate passed the measure on the third and final reading Monday night, June 3, as Congress is set to adjourn sessions on Tuesday, June 4.