Frank Drilon’s sin tax bill

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas - Pilipino Star Ngayon

If things went on as planned, Sen. Franklin Drilon’s hotly debated sin tax bill would have been presented in the Senate yesterday. The bill fell on the lap of the senator from Iloilo when Sen. Ralph Recto of Batangas resigned as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee after the public perception of his bill’s  favoring the tobacco industry.

Drilon told media that the Senate will go into a period of individual amendments yesterday, after which the senators will vote on the measure that seeks to raise around P40 to P45 billion in additional revenues on tobacco and liquor products. Senator Recto’s bill sought to raise for government additional revenues P15 billion to P20 billion, half of the P31 billion in earlier versions filed in Congress.  

Despite strong pro-tobacco lobbyists  attacking his bill left and right,  Senator Drilon appears undaunted in his crusade. A good thing going for the Drilon bill is President  Benigno Aquino III’s decision certifying it as urgent, raising the foregone conclusion of  its being approved  yesterday.  

“I am confident that our colleagues have seen and realized the importance of this reform measure to a great majority both as a health measure and as a finance bill. I am confident that they will vote for its passage when session resumes on Monday,” Drilon said.

Another good thing going for him is the support of medical associations for the approval of his bill. This makes sense, as the bill, when passed into law, prevents tobacco related illnesses as well as raises much-needed revenues for worthy economic development pursuits.

Boosting the bill’s approval is a  survey showing that more than a quarter of teenage Filipino smokers said they  would kick the habit if the price of a cigarette stick was raised by P10.

Drilon’s version seeks to increase the tax on every pack of cigarette to P18.02 from the current P5.54, almost twice the rate in Recto’s version at P9.15.

The medical groups, led by professors from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), pushed for the passage of Drilon’s bill. Dr. Antonio Dans, a UP medical professor, said 240 Filipinos are dying daily because of smoking-related diseases, particularly lung cancer.

The total health care costs of caring for and treating ailing smokers run up to P188.8 billion a year, he said.

Dans said Drilon’s version and the entailed higher per-stick pricing would prompt roughly 22 million Filipinos to quit the habit, more than twice the estimated 790,000 smokers expected to give up their vice if Recto’s draft was passed.

 The Drilon bill would also save 66,000 Filipinos from smoking-related deaths per year, said Dans. Recto’s would save 24,000.

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Former President Fidel V. Ramos leads 100 representatives from business, government and civil society organizations in the 5th Rafael M. Salas Golf Cup to  be held on Thursday, November 29, at the Camp Aguinaldo Golf Club.

The tournament is organized by the Forum for Family Planning and Development. It serves as a fund-raising event to support programs for maternal and child health. It  is named in honor of Rafael M. Salas who is remembered as a patriot who dedicated himself to serving his people in various private and government posts. In the international community, he served as the first executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with the rank of undersecretary-general. Known as Mr. Population, Mr. Salas gained the highest esteem and admiration by the global community for his steadfast advocacy on population and development.

This golf tournament for a most worthy cause has obtained generous sponsors namely, First Philippine Holdings, Ayala Corporation, DKT Philippines, San Miguel Corporation, Group Management Development Inc., Marubeni, Province of Pangasinan, Asia United Bank, GSIS, Ciriaco Corporation, SSS, Landbank, PAGCOR, PCSO, San Roque Power Corporation, SGV & Co., Majent Group, Zuellig Foundation, Natasha, UNFPA, Philippine Resources Savings Bank, BPI, Wow Videoke and Trans-Asia Oil & Energy Development Corporation.

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The Friends for Cultural Concerns of the Philippines Inc. (FCCP) will hold its dazzling annual ball December 4 with a performance by international artist Lea Salonga, at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel. She will be accompanied by the orchestra of her brother, Gerard.

The FCCP was first organized as the Friends of the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 1979, by a group of culturally inclined ladies with the objective of nurturing and developing young and talented Filipino artists. The organization has sponsored, among its projects, the schooling of artists at the University of the Philippines College of Music, tours of cultural sites, and bringing of concerts to public schools.

Under the leadership of its founding chair and first president Chito Madrigal-Collantes, FCCP organized various activities and projects to achieve its goals. Its first venture was its sponsorship of the musical “Annie,” which introduced Lea Salonga to a highly appreciative audience.

Lea Salonga’s performance at the annual ball, which is  FCCP’s major fund raiser, is expected to draw Manila society’s generous sponsors, says Mabel Abano, publicity chairperson. 

Leading this forthcoming event are FCCP president Nene Leonor, Nene Pe-Lim and Nonie Basilio with committee co-chairpersons and members including  Lili Adina, Rose Basa, Letty Calma, Tess Castro, Baby de Jesus, Rose Marie Lazaro, Sally Maliuanag, Baby Ortiz, Margie Ortiz Luis, Karen Macasaet, Baby Perez-Sison, Mimi Valerio and Esther Vibal, Gay Jamias, Carrie Bautista, Mitzi Piad, Letty Hahn, Gilda Salonga, Terry Tambunting, Linda Lugtu, Cistina Caedo, Yoli Ayson, Florence Defensor, Lita Goño, Nikki Valerio, Menchu Pascual, Lydia Reyes, Thelma Gana, Sol Tan-Gatue, Nila Mata, Lin Liboro, Annabelle Adriano, Tessie Rodrigo, Chloe Periquet & Mabel Abaño.

The members of the current FCCP board of directors are Mabel Abaño, Yoli Ayson, Beth Cristobal, Lulu Castaneda, Thelma Gana, Letty Hahn, Rose Marie Lazaro, Nene Leonor, Rosita Lesaca, Karen Macasaet, Nene Pe Lim, Chloe Periquet, Tessie Rodrigo, Gilda Salonga, and Grace Tiongco.

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The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) National Committee on Music, through the Baglan Art and Culture Initiatives Inc., will sponsor the first-of-its-kind festival, “UGNAYAN: The Lute and Zither Festival,” November 21-23.

The festival  is held in partnership with the Centro Escolar University (CEU) Manila’s Presidential Committee on Culture and the Arts, and the University of the Philippines (UP) Center for Ethnomusicology.  Venue for the three-day event is the CEU campus on Mendiola, Sampaloc, Manila.

The NCCA, along with its partners, will bring in groups from different parts of the country like the T’boli, Maguindanao, Matigsalog, Panay Bukidnon and musicians from the Cordillera and other ensembles. Other artists that use the musical items will also join the performances.         

Lute artists from different parts of the Philippines will gather for the first time to show an international audience their unique and outstanding music.   

The artists who will hold the workshop include the Cordillera Music Ensemble, T’boli hegalong player Jessie “Mafil” Angkoy, Kudlong and Saluray players from Davao city, Maguindanao Kudyapi player Esmail Ahmad, Panay Bukidnon Musicians, musician Popong Landero of Mindanao, Cordillera Ethnic Music Ensemble and Manlilikha ng Bayan Masino Intaray.  

Composer-Hegalong artist Diwa de Leon will be performing on the 22nd and 23rd, both at 4 pm, and will also be giving a lecture on “The Musical Function of the Hegalong in an era of Lady Gagas and Justin Beibers” on the 22nd, 10am.

The Ugnayan festival will showcase the beauty and significance of the lutes and zithers, the musical instruments used by the indigenous people in the Philippines. Some of the examples of lutes in the country are kutyapi, kusyapi, kuglong, kudlong, hegelong and fegereng, among others. On the other hand, zithers include instruments like kolitong, sludoy and saluroy.

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