Smokers can breathe (relatively) easily for the time being, as it has been announced that plans for a nationwide ban are still being reviewed.
About a month ago, we reported (here) that President Duterte was ready to sign an executive order (EO) “anyday now”.
Speaking on March 6, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said: “President Duterte said he will sign it tomorrow.”
This was confirmed by health Secretary Paulyn Ubial who told Rappler that the order would be “signed soon”.
However, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said today (Saturday, April 8) that the president was still studying the draft EO, which is based on the anti-smoking ordinance he introduced while Mayor of Davao.
Mr Abella said: “Let us give the President the time to review the EO with due diligence.”
There has also been no apparent progress on a city-wide ban proposed for Manila.
In mid-February, we reported how city mayor Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada announced a ban just days after giving up cigarettes himself (read more here).
“We will start at city hall. I enjoin everyone, from rank-and-file employees to department heads and even city councillors, to comply with this anti-smoking ordinance. We will be very strict,” he said.
At the end of last month, we reported how the citizens of Davao had apparently become lax in obeying the smoking ban since The Punisher had moved up to Manila (read report here).
In response the current mayor, his daughter Sara, announced the creation of a new ‘vice squad’ to enforce rules on smoking and also alcohol consumption.
“They will conduct raids and if they find proof that you have been violating or circumventing these laws, your establishment might be closed,” she warned bar and restaurant owners.
Davao’s smoking bill gained international attention when it was claimed that then Mayor Duterte forced a disobedient tourist to eat a cigarette at gunpoint.
Former North Cotabato governor Manny Piñol described how he produced a .38 snub-nosed revolver and pointed at the man’s crotch, saying: “I’ll give you these choices: I’ll shoot your balls, send you to jail, or you eat your cigarette butt.”
About 17 million people, or nearly a third of the adult population, smoke in the Philippines — the second highest in the region after Indonesia — according to a 2014 report by Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance.
Nearly half of all Filipino men and nine per cent of women smoke and experts say the habit costs the economy nearly $4 billion in healthcare and productivity losses every year.