“An act of despair,” says Evita Ricafort of the public health policy NGO HealthJustice, of Recto’s “singling out a source of funding and casting malice over good work.”
“We have nothing to hide. On the other hand, can they tell us what their motives are for being against tobacco control?” asks engineer Emer Rojas of New Vois Association of the Philippines, a group of cancer survivors all attributing their disease to smoking. “Are they against funding for tobacco control? Or are they against how the impact of our work could be inversely proportional to their personal interests?”
Exaggerating his point, Recto asserted that if the “sin tax” is really aimed at reducing tobacco consumption, then why not ban smoking altogether? “This part Recto got right,” points out outspoken cleric Fr. Robert Reyes. “Banning cigarettes would be the best thing our government can do.” But if even just adding new taxes to tobacco products puts our senators on the defensive, observes Reyes, how much more will they rush to the tobacco companies’ defense if the government plans to shut down the industry entirely?
“Huwag tayong maglokohan (Let’s stop fooling each other),” the “running priest” says. “You’re either for the Filipino people or private profit.”