Solon chides PMFTC: Fight fair and square

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Philip Morris is big enough to fight its own battles without resorting to underhanded activities and dirty tactics, Cavite 4th District Rep. Elpidio Barzaga said on Thursday as he assailed the company’s campaign against local rival Mighty Corp.

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“Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) is a global player, and it has vast resources at its disposal. It doesn’t have to resort to dirty and underhanded tactics,” Barzaga said.

He also chided PMFTC for calling for a review of the sin tax reform law because it lost part of its market share to Mighty Corp.

PMFTC cited a study conducted by the Senate Tax Study and Research Office (STSRO), which was presented at the recent hearing of the Congressional Oversight Committee on the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, which supposedly underlines alleged fraud committed by Mighty Corp.

But Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares, who attended the hearing, said she considered the STSRO study “inaccurate, incomplete and not validated.”

She said the study was based on data collated from reports and studies commissioned by Philip Morris International, PMFTC’s parent company.

Barzaga criticized PMFTC for taking parts of the STSRO study out of context and using it to push its agenda of having the sin tax reform law reviewed or amended.

“The STSRO study’s conclusions and recommendations were clear: there was a need for closer analysis of the data in that study. PMFTC’s attempt to use the study as a supposed confirmation of what it has been saying all along—that there is illicit tobacco trade—is nothing more than an underhanded strategy to hit its local rival,” Barzaga charged.

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

The lawmaker also assailed PMFTC for consistently promoting its agenda of amending Republic Act 10351 or the sin tax reform law after it lost some of its market share to Mighty Corp.

“This is a classic case of a foreign monopoly trying to regain lost ground after the government opened the market to competition by leveling the playing field. Because this is what RA 10351 did, level the playing field,” Barzaga explained.

RA 10351 was passed in 2012. It overhauled the country’s archaic excise tax system for alcohol and tobacco products or so-called sin products.

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