MANILA, Philippines – Philippine advocacy group HealthJustice recognized lawmakers, media groups and anti-tobacco groups for their efforts to fight the tobacco industry.
Rappler’s investigative journalism arm, Newsbreak, won an award for supporting reportage on the tobacco industry. In a special magazine issue, Newsbreak reported that P1 billion in tobacco funds were misused, that cigarette companies were skirting advertising bans and that congressmen got paid to oppose a bill to place picture based warnings on cigarettes.
ABS-CBN’s news program Bandila was recognized for reporter Gretchen Malalad’s exposé linking a major tobacco company to the complainant in a court case challenging the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
The award ceremony in Quezon City on Wednesday, March 28, came just a week after the 15th World Conference on Tobacco or Health, where HealthJustice was recognized with a Bloomberg Award for Global Tobacco Control by New York City’s Major himself.
Billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg had personally congratulated the Filipino NGO on “its terrific job” monitoring interference in public health policy in the Philippines.
But the organization’s president Dr. Daniel Tan said, “The award was not about HealthJustice but about what the Philippines is doing.” He explained that the purpose of their local awards was to celebrate the hard work of their local partners.
Among the awardees were:
- The Department of Health and Civil Service Commission for their landmark joint memorandum banning donations and interactions between the tobacco industry and public schools.
- The Food and Drug Administration for fighting to regulate tobacco under the FDA law of 2009, a battle that is still ongoing in the courts.
- The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority for its law enforcement efforts to protect the public from second-hand smoke in public places.
- The Department of Education for prohibiting partnerships with and contributions from the tobacco industry.
- Senator Pia Cayetano for championing the graphic health warning bill and delivering a compelling privilege speech on January 30, 2012.
- The Local Government of Balanga for rejecting contributions from the tobacco industry.
- The Local Government of Capiz for condemning tobacco industry interference with smoke-free ordinances.
- Department of Science and Technology for complying with the Department of Education’s memorandum to keep the tobacco industry away from Filipino children.
- Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board for its Smoke-Free Memo 2009-036 shooting down partnerships with entities that represent tobacco industry interests.
- The Commission on Higher Education for turning down contributions from the tobacco industry.
- DAKILA Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, a group of artists, students and socially conscious individuals, who crafted an anti-tobacco video.
- New Vois Association of the Philippines for empowering victims of tobacco in the fight against industry interests.
- Southeast Asia Tobacco Alliance for being among the most vocal and leading tobacco control groups in the region.
- Individuals who have stood against tobacco industry interference, including: Cito Beltran, Dr. Maria Soledad Antonio, CSC Commissioner May Fernandez, Attorney Alexander Padilla, Senator Juan Flavier, Former Health Secretary Jaime Galvez-Tan, Dr. Alfredo Bengzon and Father Robert Reyes.
Tan believes it’s important to celebrate the Filipinos fighting tobacco industry interference since he said, “the suffering goes beyond the person who has the disease, it goes to the family and the society.”
“To be assured, the work does not end with receiving recognition… from now on we can move forward with achieving other goals such as graphic health warnings,” added Managing Director of Health Justice, Irene Reyes. – Rappler.com
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