‘NTA liable for unnecessary interaction with Mighty Corp’
MANILA, Philippines – A public health policy think tank said Monday, August 18, that the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) could be "administratively liable" for its "unnecessary interaction" with local cigarette firm Mighty Corporation during a recent tree-planting activity.
HealthJustice Philippines cited recent reports that showed that a “synchronized tree-planting activity” was held in Narvacan North Elementary School in Ilocos Sur, with simultaneous activities done in Regions 1 and 2, and the Cordillera Autonomous Region.
The activity was attended by Mighty president, retired general Edilberto Adan; Universal Leaf Philippines Inc. vice president Robin Green; NTA administrator Edgardo Zaragoza; and John Lacabe, also from Mighty.
“NTA could be administratively liable for these activities,” Ipat Luna, a HealthJustice trustee, said.
Luna said that the NTA is only allowed to interact with tobacco companies in exercising its regulatory functions.
Luna cited the Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2010-01, which provides that the only interactions allowed are those strictly necessary for the effective regulation, supervision, and control of the tobacco industry.
Any necessary interaction must be conducted publicly and transparently, and efforts must be taken to prevent or correct any perception of partnership with the tobacco industry, considering that government’s health agenda and tobacco company interests are diametrically opposed, Luna said.
The Department of Education also issued Department order No. 6 series of 2012, which bans interactions between public schools and tobacco companies, including accepting donations. (READ: Tobacco CSR thwarts ad ban, no-smoking laws; Loophole? No PH law banning tobacco CSR)
“The DOH and CSC (Civil Service Commission) issued rules against interactions like these that give tobacco companies room to ... interact with elementary schools as if they were just a regular company instead of one that causes 187 Filipino deaths a day," Luna said.
"What message about these products will they be giving to kids in these schools by such activities?” Luna added.
Nearly 5% of deforestation in developing countries where tobacco is grown was due to tobacco cultivation, Luna cited.
Agricultural inputs and the entire manufacturing process all the way to cigarette waste being the most numerous in coastal cleanups around the world make tobacco a major environmental issue, Luna added. – Rappler.com