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News & Events » Tobacco farmers' Ditch Last Plea vs Sin Tax Bill

Article written by Cesar Reyes, People's Tonight (July 30, 2012)

VIGAN, Ilocos Sur -- Tobacco farmers in Ilocos Region are appealing to the senators to take  into consideration what would become of them when they act on the measure that seeks to impose exorbitant tax increase  on  tobacco products by as high as 708 percent.

Their sentiments were aired during a gathering of farmers’ organizations over the weekend, where they expressed concern over their predicament, which means loss of the very livelihood they have.

The farmers stressed that a 708 percent hike is the largest tax increase in the history of the Philippines and such directly threatens their only livelihood. If this happens, they said, their families will suffer.

Sulpicio Pablo of Sta. Cruz, Ilocos Sur, said the sin tax bill would have a negative impact on the lives of tobacco farmers in the region.

“Growing and selling tobacco is the only thing our forefathers taught us. This is only what we have,” he said.
“I was taught by my father to plant tobacco when I was nine years old. From then on, my wife and my children have been tilling our rented land every planting season up to harvest time. This is where our daily sustenance comes from,” said the 56-year-old Pablo.

Alexander Bumatay, 52, from Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, expressed hope the senators would stop the increase in excise tax on tobacco products to protect the welfare of the tobacco farmers and their dependents.
“We send our children and grandchildren to school with our income from planting tobacco.  We hope the senators would stop the tax,” Bumatay said.

Linda Lacuatra, 49, of  Sudipen, La Union, asked the senators to support the tobacco farmers, saying “you are our only hope that is why we are begging for your help.”

“I am appealing to them (senators) to consider the plight of tobacco farmers in many provinces, Lacuarta said.

Jose de Vera, 54 years old from Vigan, Ilocos Sur, said: “Planting tobacco is our only source of income. We need money not only for food but also for medical expenses when we get sick.”

“I believe our senators will understand our situation. An additional tax will create more problems for the people like us,” De Vera added.