Be not deceived by beverage lobbies against beverage tax, Rep. Belaro

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

Rep. Salvador Belaro Jr., 1-Ang Edukasyon Partylist, author of bills on healthy drinks and school nutrition, asked the public, particularly the students and sari sari store owners, not to believe in the campaigns of beverage companies against the beverage tax and citing the health benefits of softdrinks on nutrition.

 

In a statement, Belaro said “1-Ang Edukasyon Party-list has long campaigned for better nutrition for Filipinos especially students and the youth. The proposed beverage tax in the TRAIN tax reform bill and the various school nutrition bills I filed are proof of this focus on nutrition.”

 

He said advertising media has been coming up with well-funded campaigns against the beverage tax. “I would also not be surprised if we suddenly see some well-organized protests against the beverage tax,” he said.

 

Let us not be deceived by their campaign.

 

Congress included the beverage tax in the TRAIN bill because, among other reasons, our country has widespread illnesses linked to high sugar consumption, including diabetes, cardiovascular vascular diseases, dental caries, and obesity, he explained.

 

The DepEd has precisely banned soft drinks from school canteens and laid down strict policies on school nutrition to spare school children from health risks brought by high sugar consumption, added Belaro.

 

He said he filed bills on school nutrition because “I want our children to be healthy.”

 

By making sweetened beverages more expensive, we are discouraging consumers, the Filipino families, from high sugar consumption and making them choose healthier, less sweet or unsweetened lifestyle options, he said.

 

A healthy citizenry makes a healthy, productive, economically prosperous, and socially-progressive nation, he added.

 

He said if softdrinks and sweetened beverages are priced higher, the sari-sari stores will not sell items their customers cannot afford. They will switch to selling other products. Sari-sari store owners know their customers well. Filipino consumers have many other daily necessities like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorant. Some of the soft drinks bottlers have now been producing bottled water, tea, and coconut juice because they have learned that more Filipinos have been switching to unsweetened or less sweet beverages.

 

Whoever is behind the ongoing campaign against the beverage tax, do not use the sari-sari store owners to create the impression that the beverage tax is anti-poor, he said.

 

The fact and reality is the beverage tax is pro-poor because it will promote better health for Filipinos and will fund social services of the government.

 

 

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