Health department backs 25% tax increase for alcoholic drinks

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 2) — Health advocates want to raise excise taxes on alcoholic beverages to 25 percent— to discourage Filipinos from drinking.

Lawmakers, through pending House Bills 8286 and 4839, plan to implement a 25 percent ad valorem tax on alcohol products. Once approved, this will be a 5-percent increase from the currently implemented 20 percent.

A P30 peso tax, which will be based on the amount of alcohol in the beverage, will also be imposed.

Officials from the Department of Health (DOH) and medical practitioners said they will support the proposed measure.

In Tuesday's hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee, Dr. Rosalie Paje of DOH said this will be a win-win situation for the government and citizens.

"Increasing the excise tax is the best buy and a win-win intervention for reducing alcohol consumption, increasing the revenue for health, building on the public health impact of RA 10351," Paje said.

Health advocate Dr. Tony Leachon, meanwhile, noted alcoholic consumption is the seventh leading cause of preventable deaths globally.

"The basic conclusion of the medical group based on The Lancet (medical journal) studies is that no alcohol content or consumption is safe, whether mild, moderate or severe," Leachon said during the hearing.

"As you raise your alcohol content, they die of cancers in 30 percent of cases and heart disease," he added.

Under R.A. 10351 or the Sin Tax Reform Law, the ad valorem tax for alcohol products remains at 20 percent. A specific tax of P20 per proof liter is also imposed for the alcoholic drinks.

Through this measure, the government aims to finance the Universal Health Care program by increasing excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol products, among others.

READ: Proposed tobacco tax to benefit health care — Duque

The House Ways and Means committee has already created a technical working group to study the proposals.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.