MANILA, Philippines — Where thereʼs smoke… thereʼs foul play?
At least three international organizations condemned tobacco companies for allegedly hampering the anti-smoking campaign of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
In a joint statement, Corporate Accountability International (CAI), Framework Convention Alliance (FCA), and South East Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) assailed the supposed involvement of a tobacco company in the issuance of the temporary restraining order to MMDA.
The Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court had earlier ordered MMDA to stop the implementation of its anti-smoking campaign when two petitioners filed a complaint after they were apprehended by MMDA environmental officers.
According to a news report, one of the petitioners admitted he was paid by a tobacco company but he later retracted it.
Both CAI and FCA urged the government not give way to the alleged pressure from tobacco companies and continue the implementation of the smoking ban.
“Paying petitioners to file restraints against public health regulations is a deliberate abuse of the legal system. These actions demonstrate the lengths that tobacco corporations will go to in order to continue to export death and disease to every corner of the globe,” CAI Campaign Director Gigi Kellett said.
“We strongly urge the Philippine government to be vigilant against this manipulation by the tobacco industry, which echoes its tactics worldwide,” FCA said.
Meanwhile, SEATCA director Bungon Ritthiphakdee commended MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino for standing by the smoking ban despite its ongoing legal battle with tobacco companies.
“MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino deserves public and national government support for his bold initiatives to protect the health of Metro Manila residents from tobacco smoke. He has that support from SEATCA, and all its partners throughout Southeast Asia,” Ritthiphakdee said.
“He should stand fast and confident in the knowledge that political will and irrefutable science can and will overcome even the most underhanded tactics by the tobacco industry.”