FCAP Lauds DOH, CSC on Move to Protect Pinoys from Tobacco Industry Interference

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance, Philippines (FCAP) today commends the leadership of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) for strongly implementing and advocating against any forms of tobacco industry interference in government affairs.

“It is high time for the government itself to face the challenge of curbing the tobacco epidemic through effective crafting and implementation of public health policies. It is not enough telling people that tobacco use per se is bad. We believe that this can be realized also through strong government will and action despite strong lobby from the industry, which was best exemplified by DOH and the CSC,” said Dr. Maricar Limpin, FCAP Executive Director.

Dr. Limpin made this statement after DOH Secretary Enrique T. Ona and the CSC Chairman Francisco T. Duque III received commendations from four global health organizations, recognizing the agencies’ efforts in the development of the Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2010-01 and for the ongoing implementation of the said policy.

However, Dr. Limpin added, “We recognize the fact that government will face ongoing challenges and attacks from the tobacco industry but we in the civil society, particularly FCAP, will be vigilant of any legislators both from the Senate and Congress who will file any resolution in aid of legislative to review the Joint Memo as clearly, these legislators are working as “front groups” or sad to say, “puppets” that advance the interests of the tobacco industry.”

Signatories of the letter include: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids President Matthew L. Myers, The Union Executive Director Jose Luis Castro, Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) for Tobacco Control Director Laurent Huber, and World Lung Foundation Chief Executive Officer Peter A. Baldini.

The commendation stated that the DOH-CSC Memorandum was an “outstanding example of global best practice” in complying with Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which enjoins parties – including the Philippines – to protect policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry. It added that by issuing the said Memorandum, the country has “upheld its legal and international commitment as a Party to the FCTC and is putting the health of the people first.”

The Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2010-01 or the “Protection of the Bureaucracy Against Tobacco Industry Intervention” provides employees with specific guidelines in dealing with the tobacco industry and groups and persons representing and espousing their interests.

In addition, this policy prohibits any government official, regardless of status, to have any conflict of interest with the tobacco industry. Other prohibitions in the memorandum are: preferential treatment to the tobacco industry, accepting gifts, donations and sponsorship, financial interest in the tobacco industry, accepting other favors, and engaging in an occupational activity within the tobacco industry.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance, Philippines (FCAP) is an umbrella organization of groups and individuals from medical and professional organizations, faith-based youth, and environmental groups strongly involved in the advocacy of preventing tobacco industry interference in government affairs and ensuring that the government adheres to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which the Philippine Senate ratified in 2005.