Dermatologists urge Senate to reconsider cosmetic surgery tax
Posted: 2017-Nov-13 09.01.36 UTC+0800
MANILA — The Philippine Dermatological Society (PDS) has appealed to Senate to consider the repercussions of imposing an excise tax on cosmetic procedures.
The medical specialists said higher cost due to more tax might drive ordinary Filipinos to seek cosmetic solutions from cheaper but "unsafe hands," or in other countries, where they think they would get value for their hard-earned money.
This, the doctors said, would make the Philippines not look good in the eyes of the world, when the country must promote medical tourism and boost economic ties with other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The PDS is opposing the proposed 20-percent excise tax on cosmetic procedures under Senate Bill No. 1592 as part of the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill. The bill is set for hearing this month.
"We appeal to lawmakers in the Senate to not limit our patients' access to these high-quality goods and services," said PDS president, Dr. Angela Lavadia, in a recent press briefing at Edsa Shangrila Hotel.
Lavadia said the planned tax move deprives ordinary people or the middle class of the chance to improve or enhance their looks to boost their self-esteem or their competitiveness in the job market.
"What will happen is we'll push them to those who are probably less trained, (since) those are affordable," she said. "And so, let us be conscious of the needs of our patients to improve themselves to boost their confidence, to have the self-esteem to improve their social mobility through dermatological and cosmetic procedures."
Dr. Rosalinda Nadela, past president of PSD, said the burdensome tax measure would also push those who seek such services to go to other countries, creating the impression that the country is behind its ASEAN neighbors and other countries in terms of dermatological and cosmetic surgery expertise.
"There is also a bigger repercussion," Nadela pointed out. "We are members of the ASEAN. When we say ASEAN, there are other regional dermatological organizations involved. And with regards to medical tourism, we're behind Thailand; We're behind Singapore. And with this additional tax, (our) medical tourism might even be more behind. I hope they (Senate) consider this."
Dr. Arnold C Yu, director of PDS, read the group's position paper on the proposed tax move at the Senate, citing four major reasons for opposing it. First is health, which, they said, is guaranteed by the Constitution; Second is the psychological, emotional, and spiritual impact of cosmetic surgeries on people, like workers, students, and those seeking opportunities where competition is stiff; Third is the additional financial burden on patients; and fourth, medical tourism, especially now that the country is strengthening ties with its ASEAN neighbors.
"Actually, simple conditions such as acne can often lead to depression and to thoughts of suicides, especially among our young people," cited Lavadia, adding that studies show that cosmetic procedures have actually improved the quality of life of people.
"That is very important because it gives you some confidence; it makes you happy," she said.
Chad Patrick Osorio, a Law student at the University of the Philippines, said he had suffered from acne when he was a teenager and found ways to save up on his little earnings as working student to remedy his skin problem.
Osorio said the proposed excise tax on cosmetic procedures would burden the working class by depriving them of the chance to boost the self-confidence needed for everyday living. (PNA)