Newsbreak, ABS-CBN cited for tobacco reporting

AWARDS. HealthJustice Philippines gives out awards for those who have helped combat the tobacco industry's interference in public health measures on March 28.

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:

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. -

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