Lawmaker downplays illicit trade allegations


Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo of Valenzuela City (Metro Manila) has downplayed allegations of illicit trade in the tobacco industry, saying these were mere propaganda raised by some disgruntled industry players.

“All the data thus far on the alleged illicit trade in the tobacco industry are those culled from studies and surveys commissioned by a private company that holds a grudge against a competitor. This can hardly be considered a basis for any kind of probe or review,” Gunigundo said on Monday.

“Corporate battles shouldn’t be a national concern unless laws are being broken. But in the case of the tobacco industry, we haven’t seen any official document or data to support the allegations of illicit trade,” he said.

Guinigundo issued the statement after a foreign manufacturer called for third party monitoring of the production facilities of tobacco companies in the country.

“We shouldn’t even be entertaining these things. We cannot and should not give credence to such proposals. They are self-serving and manipulative, and the people pushing it must think we Filipinos are stupid,” the lawmaker said.

Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Santos-Henares had rejected the proposal outright, saying there was no need for it. She said the proposal violates the country’s National Revenue Code.

Gunigundo said the real issue is how to preserve the gains of the sin tax reform law that Congress passed in 2012. “Republic Act 10351, which reformed the country’s excise tax system, has been a huge success. It has been lauded by international agencies like the World Health Organization. We should not allow vested interests to push their own selfish agenda,” he added.


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