THE government has duped Filipino into believing that the controversial sin tax reform measure would benefit the people particularly in providing health services without having the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) increase its premiums.
Militant labor group Bukluran ng Mangagawang Filipino (BMP) said that despite exceeding its sin tax revenue targets last year, the Aquino adminis–tration is bleeding the workers to death with excessive PhilHealth and Social Security System (SSS) collections.
“The Department of Finance led by Secretary Cesar Purisima should change its name to Department of Fabrications, for lying that there will be additional PhilHealth benefits without increasing its premiums and increase in farmers revenue with the new sin tax measure,” said Gie Relova, BMP-NCR secretary general, in an interview.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said that tax collection from tobacco and alcohol products last year reached P91.6 billion following the implementation of the sin tax reform act.
But even with the huge collection, Malacañang did not only allow PhilHealth and SSS to raise premiums but even defended the move by saying that it would result in more meaningful benefits for their members.
The position of the executive branch is the total opposite of its views when it was defending the proposed sin tax measure before Congress, Relova noted.
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, during the sin tax hearing of the Senate ways and means committee in 2012, told the lawmakers that the passage of the measure could provide more funds for the health sector and could even remove the need for PhilHealth to increase its premiums.
“Clearly, this is not happening instead, the government is even demanding more from workers who have been trying cope with everyday hardships, brought by the high prices of basic commodities,” he added.
The Senate is set to conduct a separate inquiry on PhilHealth’s plan to increase premium contribution of its members.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th recently filed Senate Resolution 435, which seeks to review the status of the National Health Insurance Fund and to find out if the increase is reasonable.
Once PhilHealth imposes its new premiums members will pay the monthly premium equivalent to 2.5 percent of their salary.
Trillanes also filed a separate resolution calling for an investigation on the impeding SSS premium increase.
“We need to scrutinize the bases of these increases so that we can propose measures in order to shield the public from the burden these hikes would cost to them,” Trillanes said.