CABUGAO, Ilocos Sur — Shirley Pichay, 38, is a wife and mother of two. But around here, she is known…
As the Senate Ways and Means Committee continues its deliberations on the increase in excise tax for cigarettes and alcohol, senators have focused on the hike’s primary beneficiary: the government’s universal health care agenda.
The other beneficiary – tobacco farmers – is seldom mentioned.
In an interview with VERA Files last year, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said excise taxes are a form of indirect subsidy to the tobacco industry -- 15 percent of the revenue from sin taxes is divided among tobacco-producing provinces, towns and cities. Republic Act 10351 earmarked this to improve the lives of farmers and shift them away from tobacco by developing alternative farming systems.
But as VERA Files found out, the tobacco industry still keeps on growing. (See: Ten years since smoking regulation law, farmers still stuck with tobacco)
Watch this video to find out why tobacco farmers in Balaoan, La Union and Candon City, Ilocos Sur find it more difficult to shift to other crops.