Palawan raises opposition to new taxes on softdrinks, related products

Consumers and business establishments in Palawan have joined a nationwide clamor to oppose a bill pending in Congress imposing an excise tax for non-alcoholic sweetened beverages, saying ordinary consumers will be disadvantaged by the measure.

Mary Ann Pabillo of Barangay Tiniguiban, who used to operate a canteen in Palawan State University, said that she is opposed to the imposition of an excise tax on soft drinks because it will affect the ordinary people who buy these drinks everyday.

Mga mahihirap ang matatamaan nito, at hindi ang mga mayayaman,” she said.

Pabillo said she has been soliciting signatures to join a national opposition campaign against the measure initiated by the Philippine Association of Stores and Carenderia owners (PASCO).

Under Housed Bill 5636, also known as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN), already passed by the Lower House in May, a P10-per-liter excise tax will be imposed on non-alcoholic sweetened beverages, in liquid, powder or concentrate forms. These include all carbonated drinks, flavored water, energy drinks, sports drinks, juices, teas, coffee, and cereal and grain-based drinks.

PASCO, a SEC-registered group with 6,000 members nationwide, has mounted an opposition to the bill. The group likewise mobilized its members in Puerto Princesa City to gather signatures to their petition.

The group said that 40% of their sales of many carenderia and sari-sari stores came from these drinks and the possible increase of prices will have an ill effect to many people.

PASCO added that if measure is approved, the prices of basic goods such as instant coffee will increase from P5 pesos to P8 pesos, while the fruit juices which only cost around P9 pesos will jump to P30 pesos per sachet, and a one-liter bottle of softdrinks which sells for P25 pesos may then cost P45 pesos.

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