The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) stand not to halt its anti-smoking campaign despite a Court of Appeals (CA) ruling was lauded by a public health think tank.
In a statement, HealthJustice said it is important for government agencies to have a “firm stand and guard public health laws against those who sabotage it.”
“We commend MMDA’s decision to continue the enforcement of the (smoking) ban and not to be fazed by tobacco industry tactics to derail laws that protect the health of Filipinos,” said Irene Reyes, HealthJustice managing director.
BULLY TOBACCO FIRMS
The advocacy group also condemned the tobacco industry for bullying government agencies such as the MMDA that strongly implement tobacco control policies.
“Suing government agencies strongly implementing tobacco control laws is the usual tactic of the tobacco industry, not only in the country but around the world,” said Reyes, alleging that one of the complainants against the MMDA’s smoking ban confessed to having connections with a tobacco company.
A LOT OF HEADWAY
Meanwhile, MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino said they have referred the case to the Office of the Solicitor General to appeal the case.
As of July 31, 2015, the MMDA’s has apprehended a total of 248,721 violators.
The agency has a special team of green-uniformed personnel roaming the streets of the metropolis apprehending smokers in transportation terminals and other prohibited areas.
Stop smoking clinics
In line with the campaign, the agency also opened smoking cessation clinic at the MMDA Grounds in Makati City and mobile cessation clinic inside a converted bus for smokers who want to want to kick the habit.
The agency said the campaign is legally supported by the Tobacco Regulations Act of 2003 (RA 9211).
In implementing the campaign, the MMDA got a deputation memo order from the Department of Health and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board. Also, through a resolution from the Metro Manila Council, the Metro Mayors have agreed that MMDA shall enforce RA 9211.
“Who will continue our mission should we be stopped from implementing the campaign?” asked Tolentino.
Last week, the CA maintained that the MMDA has no right to implement its anti-smoking campaign because it is not empowered for such project under RA 9211.