Gov't agencies implementing tobacco policies get support of health groups

August 11, 2015 5:27 am 

MANILA, Aug. 10 — HealthJustice, a public health policy think tank, condemned on Monday the tobacco industry in terms of resorting to bullying strategy to government agencies that strongly implement tobacco control policies.

“Suing government offices strongly implementing tobacco control laws is a usual tactic of the tobacco industry, not only in the country but also around the world," said Atty. Irene Reyes, Managing Director of HealthJustice said.

Atty. Reyes noted that the case against the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) was filed by complainants who were connected to a tobacco company.

"If you can remember, one of the complainants against MMDA’s smoking ban confessed to having connections with a tobacco company," Reyes said in a statement.

Reyes cited that in a television interview aired in August 2011, one of the complainants, Anthony Clemente, admitted that he filed the case because he was promised money by a tobacco company.

She added that Clemente later on took back his statement and said that he was just rattled and confused by the reporter’s questioning.

In a decision dated July 31, 2015, the Court of Appeals (CA) decided in favor of the complainants and ruled that MMDA was not deputized to implement Republic Act No. 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003.

Despite the CA ruling, however, the MMDA said that it will continue its implementation of the smoking ban, citing that such is part of its mandate.

“We commend MMDA’s decision to continue enforcement of the ban and not be fazed by tobacco industry tactics to derail laws that protect the health of Filipinos. It is important for government agencies to have a firm stand and guard public health laws against those that try to sabotage it,” Reyes said.

Meanwhile, Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial said the DOH is also sticking to its mandate.

"Our implementation of R.A. 9211 is not precluded of our implementation of our other function to warn people and to implement other laws that will protect the health and well-being of the Filipino people," Dr. Ubial stressed. (PNA)

SCS/LSJ

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