CALASIAO, Pangasinan — Officials of Northern Luzon have solidified their support to administration presidential candidate Mar Roxas when they met here before noon today, Monday.
The officials also conveyed their profuse thanks to President Benigno Aquino III for releasing the almost P11-million shares of the tobacco-producing provinces in Northern Luzon from the tobacco excise tax which were delayed for sometime.
They conveyed their gratitude through Roxas who dropped by Calasiao before motoring to Urdaneta City after coming from Dagupan City to continue his campaign rally with members of his Liberal Party (LP) team.
Rep. Eric Singson of the second district of Ilocos Sur told Secretary Roxas that the release of the P11 million share of the LGUs from the tobacco excise tax as provided for in Republic Acts (RA) No. 7171 and 8214 means a lot for the people of Abra, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan and the Cordilleras.
RA No. 7171 provides that 15 percent of the collection from excise tax would go to the Virginia tobacco-producing provinces like Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and La Union while RA 8214 will accrue to the provinces of Pangasinan, Benguet and Apayao as well as other provinces producing native and burley tobacco.
Virginia leaves are the main components of cigarettes while burley and native tobacco leaves are the ones that make cigarettes continuously burning.
Secretary Roxas admitted the tobacco excise tax was released by President Aquino through persistent requests of Congressman (Eric) Singson who said the LGUs had to resort to borrowing money just to satisfy the requests of tobacco farmers for projects urgently needed by them.
“Thanks to President Aquino for acting on our request and to Secretary Roxas for bringing our requests immediately to the attention of the President,” Rep. Singson said.
Singson, LP chair of Region 1, assured Secretary Roxas that the LGUs will spend their shares from the excise tax judiciously and efficiently.
RA 7171 was enacted during the administration of President Corazon Aquino whose executive secretary then was Senate President Franklin Drilon.
Drilon said RA 7171 has no funds from the start. Under the term of President Aquino, the share of LGUs increased because of the added tax imposed on cigarettes.
He said he will file a bill in the next Congress seeking to convert the shares of LGUs from the excise tax into a special fund instead of maintaining it in the general fund. PNA / northboundasia.com