Press Release
September 25, 2017


Sen. Grace Poe today said a portion of fresh revenue stream from the government's move to impose excise taxes on sugar-sweetened drinks should be earmarked for the First 1,000 Days program that provides support to a child's most crucial stage of development.

During the plenary debates on Monday, Sept. 25, on Senate Bill No. 1592 or the proposed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIn) Act that seeks to overhaul the Philippine tax system, Poe moved to include an important health initiative that provides natal care program for expectant mothers and health care and feeding program for toddlers.

"Will the good sponsor agree that the tax on sweetened beverages should also fund programs for the first 1,000 days of a child or the programs that will benefit mothers and children from 0 to 2 years old since this is the most crucial period. In fact, the good sponsor is one of the main authors also [of the First 1,000 Days bill], so I know he fully understands the benefits for the first 1,000 days of a child," Poe said, addressing Senate committee on ways and means chairman Sen. Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara.

Angara, principal sponsor of the first tranche of the administration's tax reform package, agreed to Poe's proposal, saying "it should be one of the priorities of government."

"We would welcome any amendment that Sen. Poe has in mind regarding the earmarking. I think it would strengthen the bill if the legislator has her inputs into all of these provisions. The earmarking really is to strengthen that link with the people so that they feel some kind of solidarity with the measure in that they know that it is going to a good cause and the susceptibility to corruption and misspending is not there," Angara said.

Under the measure, 50 percent of incremental revenues from the sweetened beverage tax shall be allocated to health programs for the bottom 10 million poorest households to address obesity, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases resulting from the intake of sweetened beverages; dialysis wards in government hospitals; school-based supplemental nutrition programs and provision of water fountains in public schools; and supplemental feeding programs for children and adults in areas with high incidence of hunger.

The remaining revenues from sweetened beverages shall be allocated to the emergency employment and training of displaced workers in the sweetened beverage industry and a bevy of state programs such as phased implementation of Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education and provision of free technical and vocation education, expansion of the universal primary care benefit package implemented by the state health insurer, free medicines in government-run hospitals, social pension for all senior citizens, and grant financing to local government units to improve management of municipal waters and boost livelihood of an estimated 1.5 million municipal fisherfolk, technical assistance to sugarcane block farms of agrarian reform beneficiaries, housing programs for fisherfolk in the country's eastern seaboard included in the top 1,000 barangays most frequently sustaining high losses in terms of lives and property and beneficiaries of 500 fish landing sites, and infrastructure programs to address congestion and mass transport.

Poe is the author of Senate Bill No. 161 or the proposed First 1,000 Days Act that seeks to establish a pre-natal and post-natal care program and provides critical support to a child's life from the point of conception to the child's second birthday--the most crucial stage of human development.

Poe is expected to introduce an amendment when the Senate considers the measure for individual amendments.

The lady senator has been at the forefront of advocating for the immediate passage of the First 1,000 Days bill, saying this should be institutionalized.

A total of P269.943-million budget for the First 1,000 Days program is allocated in the proposed 2018 spending plan under the National Nutrition Council, an attached agency of the Department of Health.

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