August 26, 2010 - MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Tobacco Institute (PTI) said yesterday, August 24th that the injunction secured by several cigarette manufacturers against the Department of Health’s administrative order requiring cigarette manufacturers to put picture-based health warnings on cigarette packs is effective nationwide.
Background: The tobacco industry has obtained temporary relief from the implementation of a Department of Health (DoH) order imposing graphic warning on cigarette packs. Jose Antonio Blanco of the Office of the Solicitor General said that the decision issued last July 1 barred the Health department from implementing Administrative Order 13, which required the printing of pictures showing diseases acquired from smoking in addition to the existing health risk information.
The order, issued last May 24, also prohibited the use of descriptors in cigarette products such as "light" and "mild."
Philippines - tobacco industry has obtained temporary relief from placing graphic warnings on cigarette packs...
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“Three cigarette manufacturers — Fortune Tobacco Corp. (FTC), PMFTC Inc. (PMFTC), and Mighty Corp. (Mighty) — were actually able to secure injunctions and a status quo order against the DOH Administrative Order (AO) from different Regional Trial Courts (RTCs),” said PTI president Rodolfo Salanga.
Earlier, the Regional Trial Courts (RTC) of Marikina and Bulacan, on petitions filed by FTC and Mighty, respectively, granted temporary restraining orders (TRO) and subsequently, writs of preliminary injunction against the implementation of the AO requiring the printing of graphic health warnings on cigarette packs and banning the use of descriptors.
Meanwhile, the RTC in Tanauan City, Batangas confirmed last July 15, 2010 the DOH’s undertaking through a status quo order to stay the implementation of the AO until the question on its authority to issue the same has been resolved.
The injunctions and status quo order were issued in favor of the petitioner-cigarette companies and thus, enforceable nationwide and not only in the areas where the regional trial courts issuing the orders have jurisdiction,” clarified Salanga.
Salanga was reacting to news reports that the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP) is urging the DOH to implement the AO in parts of the country where the tobacco companies were not able to secure any injunction.
"FCAP is again willfully misinforming the public. The DOH should obey the court orders and maintain the status quo (which means only textual warnings are required to be placed on cigarette packaging),” urged Salanga.
The PTI is a group of cigarette manufacturers and importers in the Philippines which counts among its members FTC, PMFTC, Mighty, Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing Inc., Japan Tobacco Inc., La Suerte Cigar and Cigarette Factory, and the Associated Anglo-American Tobacco Corp.
In June 2010, five of its members separately asked the courts in their principal place of business to determine whether or not the DOH has the authority to issue such an order.
The DOH has subsequently filed motions to dismiss these cases in the respective courts.
Legal experts say that unless the injunction orders are lifted, the DOH cannot enforce the AO requiring picture-based health warnings on cigarette packs.
The Philippine government signed the FCTC on September 23, 2003 and on April 25, 2005 by a unanimous vote of all 19 senators present, the FCTC was ratified by the Philippine Senate. (Landmark Health Treaty on Tobacco Ratified by Philippine Senate FCAP hails unanimous approval, urges vigilance, FCTC Alliance, Press Release, 4/26/2005)
Reference: Tobacco group says injunction vs DOH order is nationwide, The Philippine Star, 8/25/2010.
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