MMDA has 'no power' to enforce anti-smoking campaign

MANILA, Philippines – The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has no power to implement its anti-smoking campaign, the Court of Appeals (CA) ruled.

In its ruling dated July 31, penned by Associate Justice Maria Elisa Sempio-Diy, the 12th Division of the appellate court said that the MMDA is not among the government agencies deputized to implement Republic Act 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003.

Under Section 29 of RA 9211, only members of the Inter-Agency Committee-Tobacco can implement the provisions of the law.

The committee is composed of the secretaries of trade, health, agriculture, justice, environment, science, and education.

The administrator of the National Tobacco Administration and representatives from the tobacco industry and non-governmental organizations are also part of the inter-agency committee.

The CA added that the MMDA has no police or legislative power to implement the law. It declared invalid MMDA Resolution No. 11-19, which the agency used as basis to implement its anti-smoking campaign.

The court said that in issuing the resolution, the agency "arrogated upon itself powers and functions which are not given to it by law."

In its ruling, the CA affirmed the decision of the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court Branch 213, which stopped the MMDA from implementing its anti-smoking campaign.

The Mandaluyong court had ruled in favor of petitioners Anthony Clemente and Vrianne Lamsen, who were caught and fined by the MMDA in 2011 for smoking in a public place in Cubao, Quezon City.

Despite the CA ruling, the MMDA said it would continue enforcing the anti-smoking drive.

MMDA General Manager Corazon Jimenez said the agency has a deputation memorandum order from the health department and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

Jimenez added that based on Republic Act 7924, the law creating the MMDA, one of the agency's mandates is "health and sanitation, including environmental protection."