Tobacco farmers decry House-approved sin tax bill

Tobacco farmers decry House-approved sin tax bill

MANILA — The Philippine Tobacco Growers Association (PTGA) reiterated its strong objection to the House of Representatives-approved bill proposing a huge increase in cigarette excise taxes while keeping the two-tier structure even as its President Saturnino Distor disowned reports maliciously attributing statements that he supports the measure.

“Hindi po nagbabago ang aming posisyon. Mariin naming tinututulan ang House Bill 4144 sa dahilang madudulot lang ito ng daragdagan paghihirap sa mga magsasaka na ngayon’y hindi pa rin nakakabawi sa dagok noong napakalaking 2013 tax increase (We have not changed our position. We strongly oppose House Bill 4144 as this will only bring hardship to the farmers who are still reeling from the huge tax increase in 2013),” said Distor in a statement.

“Kinokondena ko din po ang walang pahintulot na pag gamit ng aking pangalan and pagsubo ng mga salaysay na taliwas sa aking paninindigan. (I also condemn the unauthorized use of my name and the attribution of statements that are contrary to my views),” he added.

Distor said such malicious statement “is the product of malicious minds serving vested interests.”

The PTGA presudent was earlier quoted in media reports as throwing his support behind HB 4144 in his capacity as the Pangasinan Chapter President of the National Federation of Farmers Association and Cooperatives. (NAFTAC).

Distor said he has not changed his position which he publicly stated during the hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee last December 5.

“Ang posisyon po namin ay nakalahad sa kongreso and at public record po (Our position is stated in Congress and is a matter of public record),” he said.

In fact, Distor said he refused to sign a position paper of support for House Bill 4144 offered to him by the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) during the House committee hearing.

“Uulitin ko po. Kawawa po ang mga magsasaka ng tobacco kapag pumasa ang panukalang ito (I repeat. The tobacco farmers will bear the brunt of this bill),” he stressed. Lilybeth Ison/PNA-northboundasia.com