The Philippines’ authorities is unlikely to push for the proposed junk food tax nor an increase in the tax imposed on sugary drinks due to the difficulty in enforcement as well as their mixed impact on health and nutrition.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda said that the amount and value of salt and monosodium glutamate (MSG) in these products are too low to be of significance while they will be hard to quantify and enforce since most of these items are produced and sold by the informal sector.
Salceda also pointed out that the link of these ingredients to health issues are not as clear as the connection between sugar and obesity and diabetes. Sugar content is also easier to quantify at source. However, he pointed out that implementing sugary drinks tax will produce more malnutrition than reduce obesity. He claimed that the Philippines now already has the highest tax on sugar in the world at Pesos 6 (US$0.11). In comparison, Mexico, one of the world’s largest consumers of soft drink, has only a Pesos 3 (US$0.05) tax and was able to reduce obesity from 76% to 67%.
Salceda claimed that the Philippines does not have an obesity problem since its obesity rate is only 22%. Reducing it further might result in malnutrition. This is because sugar or glucose accounts for a significant portion of the Filipino diet and lowering the consumption may mean that the poor may not hit their recommended daily allowance (RDA).