May 26, 2022 – Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said that the sin taxes on alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes, and sugar-sweetened beverages raised revenues for the Universal Health Care program and insured the country against the impact of the pandemic.

Chua shared the country’s experience in pushing for excise tax legislation during the 75th World Health Assembly event entitled, “The Role of Civil Society in Advancing Fiscal Policies for Public Health,” on Tuesday.

“Our efforts to reform sin taxes can be traced back to the previous administration. Through Republic Act No. 10351 or the Sin Tax Reform Law of 2012, we restructured the excise tax on tobacco and alcohol products,” Chua said.

“Under the Duterte administration, the Philippine government pursued the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) to make our tax system simpler, fairer, and more efficient. This included Package 1, or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law of 2018, which increased taxes on tobacco products and introduced a sweetened beverage tax. Later on, we further increased taxes on tobacco and alcohol products, and introduced a new tax on e-cigarettes through Package 2+ when our previous hikes proved to be insufficient to curtail consumption,” he added.

According to Chua, all these taxes have helped fund the Universal Health Care Law to give every Filipino access to more comprehensive health care services.

He also underscored that the CTRP enabled the government to fund billions of emergency cash transfers, procure millions of life-saving vaccines, and increase investments in health and social services amid the pandemic.

Moreover, Chua acknowledged the effective collaboration between the government, civil society organizations, and top-level ownership of the reforms by the President and Cabinet members as instrumental in shaping public perception and ensuring the accountability of legislators.

“Our experience has highlighted the strong interplay between fiscal policies and social interventions. We fought hard to enact these game-changing tax reforms, and now we are seeing their benefits. We remain confident that the bold policies we have instituted over the past six years will further drive our economy forward and help improve the lives of the people,” he said.

The virtual event was organized by the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), a project of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.