(August 7, 2019 – Manila, Philippines) Health groups deplored the Court of Appeals (CA)’s
affirmation of Balanga City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 93's decision declaring
Bataan City’s anti-smoking ordinance (Ordinance no. 9, series 2016) unconstitutional.
“The Philippines is a State Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
(FCTC), a public health treaty that reaffirms the right of the people to the highest standards
of health. By virtue of its ratification in 2005 as prescribed under Article VII Section 21 of
the Philippine Constitution, the FCTC is a valid and effective part of Philippine law, and it
mandates the State to create a 100% smoke-free environment to protect people from
exposure to tobacco smoke. Bataan City’s ordinance fulfills this very directive, so it is
highly questionable that our courts have declared it unconstitutional,” said Dr. Ulysses
Dorotheo, Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA).
“The courts have ruled against the people’s right to be safeguarded from the harms of
smoking. This is a regressive decision against public health. It is the lives and health of the
families and children of Bataan that will suffer the most,” said Dr. Riz Gonzalez of the
Philippine Pediatric Society.
Mary Ann Fernandez-Mendoza, President of HealthJustice Philippines, pointed to the
tobacco industry as the culprit. “This is undeniably the handiwork of tobacco companies,
which comprise the Philippine Tobacco Institute (PTI). This is a classic case of the tobacco
industry actively undoing all the gains we have made in public health just so it could
advance its own agenda, which is to keep exploiting and profiting from the people they
deliberately got addicted to smoking,” Fernandez-Mendoza said.
Balanga City’s smoke-free ordinance was challenged by PTI before the RTC, which
granted PTI’s prayer to stop the implementation of the ordinance.
Balanga City is a hall of famer in the Department of Health’s Red Orchid Awards, which
recognize 100% tobacco-free government entities. It also holds the Guinness World
Record for holding the largest dance fitness class in 2016 as part of its Tobacco-Free
Generation (TFG) program.
“Balanga City has a proud history of advancing its people’s right to health, such as its
“Huwag maging S.A.D, para laging healthy and happy” initiative (S.A.D. stands for smoker,
alcoholic and drug addict). Declaring a life-saving measure like Ordinance No. 9 as
unconstitutional is a blow against everything the city government worked hard for in the
name of public health,” added Fernandez-Mendoza.
HealthJustice is a leading think tank on and advocate for pro-health and tobacco control
laws, policies and measures. It is a Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control.
SEATCA is a “multi-sectoral alliance supporting ASEAN countries in developing and
implementing effective tobacco control policies in line with the WHO FCTC.”
Philippine Pediatric Society is a specialty division of the Philippine Medical Association, a
fellowship of Filipino physicians whose vision is to be “united in the common goal of
acquiring the highest levels of medical knowledge and skills through continuing education
and research, and to promote the healing ministrations of the physicians in the delivery of
health care to patients.
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