Manila, Philippines – Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao attended the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability hearing on House Resolution No. 882 on the utilization of P66.45 million on motor vehicles from the share from the tobacco excise tax by the provincial government and pushed for direct benefits for the tobacco farmers.
In relation, Casilao with other lawmakers from the Makabayan Coalition filed House Resolution No. 1126 to determine the actual benefits received by Ilocos Norte farmers from the tobacco excise tax. This was in consultation with farmers’ group Stop Exploitation (Stop Ex), the regional chapter of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas for Ilocos and affiliate of Anakpawis Party-list Ilocos Region Chapter. Stop Ex, Bayan Ilocos Region and Amin Ilocos Norte farmers group are holding a protest at the south gate of congress, demanding direct benefits from the said fund.
HR 1126 stated that Republic Act No. 7171 or the “Act to promote the Development of the Farmer in the Virginia tobacco producing Provinces” through the tobacco excise tax that the funds shall be utilized “to advance the self-reliance of tobacco farmers through (a) cooperative projects, (b) livelihood projects, to increase farmers’ incomes, (c) agro-industrial projects and (d) infrastructure such as farm-to-market roads.”
Moreover, “based from various Commission on Audit (COA) audit reports from 2006 to 2016, share from tobacco excise tax received by the province reached to more than P1.5 billion.”
“The law is basic but the implementation is so jarring that it could trigger a congressional probe on a multi-million peso project of a local government,” Casilao said.
Hence, Casilao urged the house leadership to look deeper on whether farmers, who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of the tobacco excise tax, directly gain from the fund. ###