Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo, chairman of house committee on means and ways said that the bill imposing tax on sweetened drinks will be passed in December, before the Christmas break.
In a text message he said, “We will approve it before our christmas break (Dec19). It is an important health measure where many of the poor become victims of the cycle of malnutrition and obesity. We need funds to develop sources of portable water for our public schools and ordinary communities.”
According to him, this bill could help the government gain additional revenue of P34.5 billion a year and could develop a healthier population as well.
“We’ve come to determine that many of the diseases emanate from the consumption of this readily acceptable commodity especially by the children. So the proceeds will serve not only as additional revenue for the government, but more importantly, to develop a really healthy population,” he said
This was opposed by Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez. He said that sugar is not the culprit in the rising obesity and diabetes problems of rice-eating Filipinos. He added that this excise tax on sweetened beverages will greatly affect sugar industry workers.
Sugar industry leaders are also worried that this will cause the increase in prices of softdrinks and carbonated drinks and will result in the “contraction of the market of refined sugar” and could also result in the reduction of purchases of refined sugar.
On the contrary, Quimbo said that the additional tax on sweetened drinks will not greatly affect the sugar industry. “The studies that we’ve read showed the sugar industry will not be in any way affected because it is a small segment– meaning the amount of sugar produced by domestic farmers is not enough to accommodate the industry’ s needs. Marami ay imported sugar pa rin. Bulk of those that will be taxed is the artificially sweetened beverages which we believe are causing harm,” he further added.
Sweetened drinks include soft drinks, fruit drinks, sweetened tea and coffee drinks, energy drinks and all other non-alcoholic beverages that are ready to drink and in powder form.
Exceptions are natural fruit juices, natural vegetable juices, yoghurt, milk products and meal replacement beverage or medical food and weight loss products.