PH environment agency rejects tobacco industry meddling

Bangkok, 24 September 2018: Last 13 September 2018, the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued Memorandum No. 2018-12, amending the DENR’s Code of Conduct in order to protect itself against tobacco industry interference.

“In adopting into its Code of Conduct the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2010-01 issued by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and Department of Health (DOH), the DENR is rejecting the greenwashing activities of the tobacco industry. We urge more government agencies to do likewise,” said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA).

When CSC-DOH JMC No. 2010-01 (Protection of the Bureaucracy Against Tobacco Industry Interference) was issued eight years ago in compliance with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the Philippines became the first country in Asia to take a whole-of-bureaucracy approach to deal with tobacco industry interference. Other government agencies that have adopted the JMC include the Department of Education (DepEd), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

SEATCA’s first Asia Tobacco Industry (TI) Interference Index released last week finds that the tobacco industry continues to exploit corporate social responsibility (CSR) channels, such as tree planting and charitable donations, to access senior health and non-health government officials. Even when a government prohibits officials from participating or endorsing CSR activities, as in the Philippines, the industry uses other business charities to access senior officials to circumvent the law.

“CSR activities are a key strategy of the tobacco industry to undermine tobacco control policies. The tobacco industry has even framed its CSR programs along the lines of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to win political approval, ignoring the reality that the tobacco industry is a major polluter and causes devastating social, economic, and environmental harms,” remarked Dorotheo.

For example, in 2016 and 2017 in the Philippines, Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) and the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) held summits on climate change and its effects on agriculture, causing participating local government officials to violate the JMC.

“We call on all government agencies to step up their efforts to implement the WHO FCTC by proactively setting up safeguards, like adopting the JMC, against unnecessary interactions with the tobacco industry, rejecting grants from and partnerships with the industry, and implementing transparency measures to protect policies from industry interference,” added Dorotheo.

Wendell C Balderas, Media and Communications Manager – SEATCA
Email: | Mobile: +63 999 881 2117 ##

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SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the evidence-based tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control movements in Southeast Asia, the WHO bestowed on SEATCA the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2004 and the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award in 2014.