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House faces obstacles with bill labeling tobacco smuggling as economic sabotage.

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On second reading, the House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a resolution designating tobacco smuggling as economic sabotage.

House Bill 3917, which seeks to amend Republic Act 10845, the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, by defining the smuggling of tobacco, whether it is made or not, as economic sabotage and a non-bailable violation, was approved by the chamber during the plenary session by voice vote.

According to the original law, only rice, sugar, corn, swine, chicken, garlic, onion, carrots, fish, and “cruciferous vegetables” are listed as agricultural commodities whose importation shall be deemed a terrible crime.

Representative Margarita Nograles of the PBA party list highlighted the most recent Euromonitor research in her remarks on sponsorship, which predicted that in 2022, 16.7%, or almost 9.52 billion sticks, of the entire number of cigarettes sold in the Philippines, will come from unlawful sources.

Nograles claimed that the government will lose PHP26.2 billion in tax income in 2022 as a result of tobacco smuggling.

“The Philippines government’s ability to collect taxes is seriously threatened by this. While we continue to step up our efforts to implement measures, dishonest traders continue to avoid paying hefty taxes and trade on the illicit market “said Nograles.

She issued a warning that if ignored, it might have an impact on the local tobacco business and about 2.2 million Filipinos.

The bill suggests that cigarette smugglers be sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in jail and a maximum of 40 years without the possibility of bail.

The complete amount of unpaid duties and other taxes must also be paid, in addition to a fine equal to twice the value of the seized smuggled goods.

“Imposing more severe sanctions and discouraging the entry and sale of illegal tobacco in the Philippines are urgently needed to combat large-scale tobacco smuggling,” she said.

The measure is in keeping with the declaration made by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), in which he declared war on widespread smuggling and commanded authorities to swiftly stop the financial threat within their purview.

Another bill’s author and the president’s son, Sandro Marcos, stressed the urgency of addressing the “increasing problem” of cigarette smuggling because it costs the government between PHP30 billion and PHP60 billion yearly in lost tax income.

“The national government risks losing even more money if entry and sale of illicit cigarettes are left unchecked. This will hurt attempts to recover from the pandemic, and the government must stop one of the worst tax leaks “the legislators stated.

Cebuano Cebuano English English Filipino Filipino

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