Lawmakers have criticized giant cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris for funding a report on illicit trade in the tobacco industry to deceive the public and policy makers in an effort to regain control of the country’s multi-billion peso tobacco industry. “Studies like this are meant to discredit the effectiveness of the existing Sin Tax Law that has benefited the government and its health reform programs,” Deputy House Speaker Sergio Apostol said.
“We cannot rely on questionable studies used as references to fabricate scenarios about our local industries,” Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu, vice chairman of the ways and means committee, agreed.
Isabela 1st District Rep. Rodolfo Albano 3rd, who represents one of the country’s tobacco-growing provinces, said the alleged study “is clearly a dirty tactic to justify that there is a flaw in the existing Sin Tax Law and influence legislation to amend it while Bureau of Internal Revenue statistics say otherwise.”
The lawmakers pointed out that Republic Act 10351 or the sin tax reform law has been successful in raising revenues for the government and curbing smoking, especially among the youth and the poor.
The lawmakers assailed the “Asia-11 Illicit Tobacco Indicator 2012” report prepared by the US-based International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) and the UK-based Oxford Economics (OE).
The report covered several Asian markets and claimed that the Philippine government was losing P15 bi lion in revenues due to illicit trade in the tobacco industry. But the Thailand-based anti-tobacco advocacy group Southeast Asian Tobacco Alliance (SEATCA) rejected the report. The group said Philip Morris International funded the report.
SEATCA noted that the report was prepared u ing “flawed methodology, and results in skewed findings supportive of the tobacco industry’s positions on taxation.