Press Release
November 20, 2012

Recto bats for P23B earmarks for PhilHealth
Specific allocations from sin tax revenues pressed

Sen. Ralph. G. Recto today said a part of the total revenues and not mere "increments" from the sin tax reform package should go directly to intended beneficiaries and programs and should not be a "blank check" for disposal of government agencies.

"The people, at the outset, should know where the money that would be taken from them would be used," Recto said in proposing amendments to the "earmarking" provision of the sin tax reform package being shepherded in the Senate.

"We know the target of P40 billion, but do we know where the sin tax revenues would specifically go?" he added.

Recto proposed that P23 billion from total sin tax revenues be directly released annually to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to meet and sustain the government's goal of providing universal health coverage and benefit an additional 10.4 million families.

He also proposed that P10 million be allocated yearly to each of the 618 district hospitals operated by local government units (LGUs) for repair and upgrading of facilities and services.

A separate P100 million will be allocated yearly to each of the 16 regional hospitals and 22 medical centers for the same operational and physical upgrading, according to Recto's proposed amendments.

The senator also pressed for the annual allocation of P100 million to the Department of Health (DOH) for a nationwide information campaign on the ill-effects of smoking and drinking.

Recto said another P750 million be allocated every year for the unemployment package of despondent workers and farmers who will be displaced by the crumbling tobacco and alcohol industry.

The above Recto amendment allocates a specific maximum amount of P150,000 "unemployment insurance" for each displaced worker that could be availed within one year.

To re-tool displaced workers, Recto proposed that the TESDA be tapped and be given P250 million yearly to conduct job trainings for tobacco and alcohol workers seeking a fresh start, with each worker entitled to at least P50,000 worth of training. "Let me clarify that if these amendments are accepted on the floor, this would mean that all the proposed earmarking or allocations will be strictly funded yearly regardless if the P40 billion revenue target is realized," he stressed.

Recto said the balance of the total revenues from the sin tax would be parked in the national coffers.

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