House approves sin tax law amendment on second reading

MANILA — The House of Representatives on Wednesday night approved on second reading a measure replacing the unitary tax rate on tobaccos with a two-tier system.

Lawmakers approved through viva voce vote House Bill No. 4144 authored by ABS party-list Rep. Eugene Michael de Vera and sponsored on the floor by ways and means committee chair Dakila Carlo Cua.

The proposed measure, which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 10351, or the Sin Tax Reform Law, will introduce two tax tiers depending on the cigarettes’ classification– the first at Php 32 per pack for low-priced cigarettes, and the second at Php 36 per pack for high-priced cigarettes. It also seeks an annual increase of 5 percent on these rates.

The current law sets the sin tax on tobacco at Php 30 per pack in 2017, with an annual 4 percent adjustment afterwards.

The bill hurdled the committee level without amendment on Dec. 5 and moved to the plenary for deliberations on Tuesday.

Taguig City Rep. Pia Cayetano and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman raised the health impact of the bill during the interpellations, saying the measure should be discussed lengthily before it is passed.

House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, on the other hand, expects the bill to advance on third and final reading next week. Filane Mikee Cervantes/