The Bureau of Internal Revenue should trace at least P300 million donated by Bloomberg Philanthropies to several anti-vaping non-government organizations between 2007 and 2013 to see if proper taxes were paid and prevent further tax evasion in the future, according to consumer groups.
Anton Israel, president of Nicotine Consumers Union of the Philippines, said the figures were based on an expose by Rep. Estrellita Suansing who claimed total grants by Bloomberg Philanthropies to government agencies and NGOs in the Philippines reached $6.29 million between 2007 and 2013.
Israel made the declaration in a hearing conducted by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability on June 9, 2021,
“That’s a big amount, equivalent to more than P300 million in the seven-year period or over P40 million a year, disbursed by Bloomberg Philanthropies to local agencies and organizations, without full disclosure and transparency,” said Israel.
The donation by Bloomberg to promote the ban on vaping in the Philippines continued over the years, with an explosive research published by Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates showing at least seven local NGOs received grants from American billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates to lobby for a ban of vaping in the country.
Vape consumers said the BIR should do a lifestyle check on the people behind these NGOs to see if they are paying the right taxes. “You only see a few personalities with no actual physical offices, yet they receive millions of dollars from abroad. Where does the money go to?” said Israel.
“These people are lobbying to ban the only scientifically proven less harmful alternative to cigarettes. Makes you really think. Are they really promoting public health or simply in it for the funds?” he said.
“This is a highly deplorable, unpatriotic, and inhumane act. I hope their conscience will let them sleep at night,” Israel said.
Vaper Ako spokesman Joaqui Gallardo said, “what we know is that donations are taxed by the government. Have these groups paid donors’ taxes? The Bureau of Internal Revenue should look into this too.”
“They want the Senate to junk the vape bill. Do they want the vaping industry to go underground? Do they want the one million Filipino vapers to go back to smoking?” he said.
“Nicotine is addicting. So, if you are hooked, how else can you stop smoking? Millions around the world have made the switch to these less harmful products. Yet these NGOs present smokers only two options: Quit or die. What about those who want to quit but are really having difficulty?” Gallardo said.