People's Journal - More funds for tobacco farmers

17  March 2013

SAN Fernando City, La Union — Good news for tobacco farmers.

Aside from a P4 billion annual allocation, provinces making up the so-called Solid North will be getting P6 billion additional revenues to be used to improve the lives of the tobacco farmers and their families and in providing basic needs on education and health.

The good news will be disseminated by the Team PNoy senatorial candidates as they barnstorm the provinces of Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.

Team PNoy campaign manager Sen. Franklin Drilon said the passage of Republic Act 10351 or Sin Tax Law in December last year meant that tobacco farmers from the four northern  provinces will get an additional P6 billion budget this year.

The amount is on top of the P4 billion annually allocated to these provinces under the Republic Act 7171.

This law provides that tobacco farmers are entitled to 15 percent of the incremental tobacco revenue collected from the excise tax on tobacco products.

”The passage of the sin tax law is attributed to the support of majority of the senators. We need this kind of support to push the legislative agenda of the President,” Drilon stressed.

Four Team PNoy re-electionists supported the sin tax law: Loren Legarda, Aquilino Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes  and Alan Peter Cayetano.

”Our farmers can be assured of a variety of assistance from the government because of the sin tax law, which was stalled in the Congress for 16 years,” Drilon said, during the Team PNoy sortie in San Fernando City which is celebrating the 15th anniversary of its cityhood.

The rally at the City Plaza was followed by a parade that brought together Team PNoy candidates and city officials led by Mayor Pablo Ortega.

Drilon stressed that, President Aquino’s government has “doubled the safety net being provided under the law to help tobacco farmers augment their income and to support alternative livelihoods for them.”

He revealed that the government will provide input subsidies to produce a better quality of tobacco leaf and conduct farm training for farmers who want to shift to other crops that yield higher income.

Under the sin tax law, the target is P33.96 billion in additional revenues in 2013, its first year of implementation, by raising taxes on cigarettes and alcoholic beverages.

The P23.4 billion will come from increased tobacco taxes, and P10.56 billion from taxes on fermented liquor and distilled spirits depending on its historical burden sharing.