June 29, 2010 - Government agencies and employees are barred from engaging in unnecessary interactions with tobacco manufacturers after the Department of Health (DOH) and Civil Service Commission (CSC) issued a joint memorandum.
The DOH and CSC joined forces in the battle against the ill effects of tobacco consumption as they issued a joint circular to “protect the bureaucracy against tobacco industry interference”.
Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral and CSC Chief Francisco Duque, a former DOH secretary himself, both signed the landmark order aimed at preventing undue influence of the tobacco industry on the government’s tobacco control policies.
Joint Memorandum Circular 2010-01 now only allows transactions where a public official or employee has the duty to regulate, supervise and control the operations of the industry.
“The memo contains basic provisions to promote integrity, accountability and transparency. The reason behind its issuance is because the modes, schemes and faces of tobacco interference has evolved greatly and now constitutes the single largest obstacle to public health. There is an greater threat now that the local industry is now controlled by a monopoly resulting from the merger of Philip Morris and Fortune Tobacco,” explained Duque.
Last April, Cabral warned government agencies from receiving donations from the tobacco industry because it undermines the country’s commitment to the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, specifically the general obligation to protect public health policies from vested commercial interests. (Philippines - DOH warns government agencies to avoid partnerships or accepting donations from tobacco manufacturers..)
“We hope that with the issuance of this memorandum circular, we will be able to further control the meddling of the tobacco industry in the way we act or decide, as well as show that the government is sincere in its efforts to be transparent and accountable in all its dealings,” Cabral said.
Ms. Cabral said the memorandum supplements a CSC memorandum issued last year that prohibited smoking inside government offices and within 10 meters from the entrance of the agencies. "CSC will impose penalties for violators [of the memorandum]," she added.
References: Intensified campaign vs ill effects of cigarettes, Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex, SunStar - Manila, 6/26/2010; Government officials, employees banned from dealing with tobacco industry, Prinz P. Magtulis, BusinessWorld.com, 6/24/2010.
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