Duterte signed the certification of urgency on Tuesday, May 28, and a copy was released to the media on Wednesday (May 29).
“Pursuant to the provisions of Article VI, Section 26 (2) of the 1987 Constitution, I hereby certify to the necessity of the immediate enactment of Senate Bill 233,” Duterte stated in his letter to Sotto.
The President said the measure will address “the urgent need to further protect the right to health of the people”.
Duterte said the bill will also maintain a broader fiscal space to support the effective implementation of the Universal Health Care Act or Republic Act 11223.
With the Palace certification, the Senate will be able to immediately pass the bill on third and final reading after its approval on second reading.
The Senate version of bill proposes an increase of PHP45 to PHP60 per pack in excise tax beginning next year to 2023 and then 5 percent yearly hike effective Jan. 1, 2024.
It proposes the following scheduled increase: PHP45 per pack increase effective Jan. 1, 2020 until Dec. 31, 2021, PHP50 in January 2021, PHP55 per pack in January 2022 and PHP60 per pack effective Jan. 1, 2023.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri has expressed optimism that the Senate can pass the bill by Wednesday or Monday next week at the latest.
In her letter to Sotto, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has already assured that the lower chamber would "await the action of the Senate and stand ready to adopt the Senate version in the interest of speedy legislation.”