By Analou De Vera
The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday said that they will first study all possible considerations with regards to its plan proposal to impose an additional tax on salty products.
“In crafting policies, health is just one of the many dimensions that you need to take into consideration. Policy crafting is very different. It needs to be balanced with other considerations–economic consideration, social considerations, political considerations…,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in a media forum.
Duque said that the formulation of a certain policy needs consultations with other agencies and stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the health chief believed that additional tax should not be imposed on “daing, tuyo, and bagoong.”
“Para sa akin [For me], I don’t agree that we should tax daing, tuyo, bagoong…” he said.
Moreover, the health chief expressed that it might be a good idea to give “power” to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to set a limit on the amount of salt in food products.
“We don’t have that power unless you amend the law– the FDA only has the power to enforce labeling but to set the limits–wala (none),” he said.
“The FDA— it has to be given the power to set the limit [on the amount of salt]…which might be a good idea,” he said.
Duque said that the proposal to impose tax on salty products was “very tricky” unlike the sugar-sweetened beverages tax measure.
“Very tricky kasi nga kung yung gagamitin mong logic sa sugar, diba parang ganoon din yun, pero apparently hindi ganoon, kasi mas marami rin kasi pinaggagamitan ang asin– food processing, preservatives, [among others],” said the health chief.
[Very tricky because if you will use the logic used on sugar, it looks the same but apparently it’s not, because salt has many uses–[in] food processing, preservatives, (among others).]
“It has a broad application hindi kagaya ng sugar—narrow applicability ng sugar…Parang you can survive without sugar but you cannot survive without salt,” he added.
[It has a broad application unlike sugar that has only a narrow applicability. It’s like you can survive without sugar but you cannot survive without salt.]
Recently, Duque expressed that it might be a good idea to slap additional tax on salty products in a bid to curb non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country. Examples of NCDs include cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and chronic respiratory diseases.
Salt consumption of Filipinos is twice the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO), said United Nations Interagency Task Force (UNIATF) External Relations Officer Dr. Alexey Kulikov.
“The WHO recommended level is two grams of sodium per day which is about five grams of salt. In the Philippines, it is about 11 grams of salt per day,” he said.