Bongbong Marcos says tobacco farmers must be protected
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has assured thousands of tobacco farmers nationwide that his administration is working to safeguard their livelihood, citing their “indispensable” contribution to government coffers.
“We must seek ways to protect the livelihood of thousands of our tobacco farmers,” the President said at the opening of the 1st International Tobacco Agricultural Summit at the Shangri-la The Fort in Taguig City.
The Chief Executive cited the tobacco industry as a “significant source of tax revenues that are used to fund government programs.”
“It is an indispensable bedrock that generates income, livelihood, opportunities, and employment, particularly in areas where its cultivation spans generations and holds pivotal significance in the way of life of its communities,” he said.
In his message delivered by Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc, the President said that the forum is “a good opportunity to discuss strategies to innovate the tobacco industry in ways that safeguard the wellbeing of people and the environment.”
The President said that he is committed to finding ways to protect the livelihood of tobacco farmers, given that it is a “vibrant catalyst for economic growth in the country” with particular significance in Mindanao and Northern Luzon.
He expressed hopes that the Summit would yield measures to promote responsible agricultural practices and ensure jobs for tobacco farmers.
According to National Tobacco Administration (NTA) data, they are assisting more than 25,000 tobacco farmers. There are also 2.2 million workers and their dependents relying on the tobacco production segment of the industry.
The President added that the Summit’s future-driven discussion “would help bring tobacco farming and its allied industries into the future.”
In a separate message delivered at the same Summit, NTA regulatory head Robert Ambros, said that revenue losses due to illicit tobacco trade is expected to exceed P30 billion this year. He said the foregone revenues this year from tobacco smuggling is already at P16 billion.
Mindanao, Visayas and Northern Luzon were cited as “hotspots” for illicit tobacco trade, based on Philippine National Police data.
Asked on how the agencies were addressing the issue, NTA said that they are “supporting efforts on illicit trade,” adding that the NTA has a coordinating mechanism with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs.
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