Lacson Pushes Probe of Sin Tax Funding Delay for Health Programs

With added funding for health programs held up for more than four years, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson sought an investigation into the delayed implementation of the sin tax law. 

Lacson filed Senate Resolution 826 inquiring into why the implementation of the sin tax law’s provisions on funding for the health programs have yet to be implemented since 2004.

“Due to the delays, reports show that there is no fund for the disease prevention program of the Department of Health while the universal coverage of the National Health Insurance Program is being implemented on a snail pace,” Lacson, who chairs the Senate committee on ways and means, said in Resolution 826.

The resolution sought an investigation headed by the Senate committees on ways and means, and on health and demography.

Lacson noted that Republic Act 9334, the law on excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, was passed as early as December 2004.

The law had provided for an increase in specified tax rates on alcohol and tobacco products, and earmarked increased revenues from the higher rates.

“Paragraph C, Section 7 of RA 9334 provides that 2.5 percent of the incremental revenues from excise taxes on sin products be allocated each to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and the Department of Health,” Lacson noted.

Yet, he lamented that four years since the law was passed, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) “had not released a single centavo” to the Health Department.

The funds for PHIC will be used for the government’s National Health Insurance Program while the revenues for the DOH will go to a trust fund for its disease prevention program.

Lacson, in his resolution, also sought to investigate supposed errors in the calculation of the earmarked amounts in the revenue regulations provided by the Department of Finance.

“The delay in the improvement of the draft amendment to Revenue Regulation No. 3-2006 has held up the implementation of the allocation aspect of RA 9934,” he said.