Tobacco farmers coming from provinces badly hit by natural disas-ters and poverty will soon receive funds amounting to a whopping P10.69 billion intended to help improve their livelihood, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said today.
The P10.69 billion came from the proceeds from the Sin Tax Reform Law (RA 10351) in 2013, which Drilon authored and fought for in 2012.
“These funds will enable LGUs to reach out to tobacco farmers and help them increase their productivity and income, especially now that the country’s agricultural sector is suffering from the El Niño phenomenon,” Drilon, a re-electionist senatorial candidate of the Liberal Party, said.
The four-time Senate President stressed that the amount is more than double than what these provinces used to received prior to the enactment of the Sin Tax Reform Law.
The tobacco excise tax share of all the tobacco-producing provinces as mandated by Republic Act 8240 (Burley and Native tobacco excise tax law) and RA 7171 (Virginia tobacco fund) amounted only to P5.84 billion in 2012, P3.83 billion in 2011, and P5.49 billion in 2010, he noted.
Drilon said that he is glad that with the Sin Tax Reform Law, the local government units would now have ample funding for programs which will “assist tobacco farmers to enhance their livelihood and increase their income.”
“I am particularly proud that because of the Sin Tax Reform Law, poor and fourth-class cities and municipalities such as the city of Candon in Ilocos Sur, and the towns of Qui-rino and Mallig in Isabela will now have additional funds,” Drilon said.
Candon City is the highest recipient of shares with P356.9 million, while the towns of Quirino and Malig will getP29.6 million and P14.9 million, respec-tively.
Drilon said that the P10.69 billion allotment will go a long way in alleviating “the conditions of tobacco farmers and their families, who are often among the nation’s poorest.”
“Considering that the province of Isabela, like so many others, has been under a state of calamity due to the dry spells brought by El Niño, our poor far-mers need all the help we can provide through these funds,” he pointed out.
Isabela has declared a state of emergency last October 2015, following the widespread agricultural damage, amounting to P705 million, caused by El Niño to the province.
“The situation in Isabela, Ilocos Sur, and other provinces are already alarming in terms of their effects to the livelihood of our people, and demands actions and solutions from the national government such as the release of these funds,” he said.
“This achievement would have been virtually impossible without the excise taxes on tobacco under the Sin Tax Reform Law, which brought billions to the national coffers,” Drilon underscored.
He noted that the collections on excise taxes in 2015 reached P140 billion, which has been the source of funds for the Philhealth enrolment of 15 million indigent families and two million senior citizens.
Drilon then urged the Department of Budget and Management and the LGUs concerned to closely monitor the provision of the funds “to make sure that the funds are actually reaching farmers for whom they are intended to.”
Other tobacco producing LGUs who will be top recipients of the sin tax collections include Cabugao (P331,288,034), Narvacan (P276,896,635), Sta. Cruz (P264,492,112), San Juan (P239,652,663), Santiago (P232,386,288), Sinait (P196,236,833) Magsingal (P183,072,230) in Ilocos Sur, Balaoan (P320,426,556) in La Union, and Batac (P178,024,130) in Ilocos Norte, among others.