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.