THIS refers to the article “Groups hit Civil Service official for pushing ban on e-cigarettes” by Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco published on print and online versions of the BusinessMirror on November 21, 2016.
As a response to the said article and to enlighten the public on the issue, a joint statement has been prepared by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Department of Health (DOH) for widest dissemination. Below is the text of the joint statement:
Joint statement by the Civil Service Commission and the Department of Health
The following statement clarifies the issues raised in various publications, including the Business Mirror, relative to the participation of the CSC Chairperson during the World Health Organization’s Seventh Conference of Parties for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) held in India last November 7-12.
1. The Philippines participated in COP, which is being conducted every two years, as one of the parties to the FCTC. The FCTC is the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization, created in response to the tobacco epidemic. It was opened for signature on 16 June to 22 June 2003 in Geneva, and thereafter at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Depositary of the treaty, from 30 June 2003 to 29 June 2004. The treaty, which is now closed for signature, has 168 Signatories and 180 parties, including the Philippines.
The Philippines ratified the FCTC on February 22, 2005, through the Senate Committee Report No. 12, which approved the P.S. Resolution No. 195 or the ‘Resolution Concurring in the Ratification of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.’ Having been ratified by the government, the FCTC is considered as part of the law of the land. It is the country’s obligation to comply to the treaty and ensure that utmost priority is given to public health over other interests.
2. While the Vaping Industry claims that the Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) is less harmful than tobacco products, the Department of Health (DOH) believes that all ENDS product should be regulated. DOH Administrative Order No. 2014-0008 asserts the stance of WHO that the potential risks which ENDS pose for the health of users remain undetermined. WHO stated that “until such time as a given ENDS is deemed safe and effective and of acceptable quality by a competent national regulatory body, consumers should be strongly advised not to use electronic nicotine delivery systems including e- cigarettes.” The ENDS products and its manufacturers and distributors are being regulated by the FDA to ensure protection of the safety and welfare of consumers.
Under the said policy, ENDS or e-cigarettes are not exempted from ‘clean air laws’, which restrict the places in which cigarette smoking is allowed.
The Philippines, during the COP, supported the proposal of the FCTC Bureau which invites parties to ‘consider applying regulatory measures such as those referred to in document FCTC/COP/7/11 to prohibit or restrict the manufacture, importation distribution, presentation, sale and use of ENDS/ENNDS, as appropriate to their national laws and public health objectives’
3. The CSC has been at the forefront of the government’s tobacco control agenda. It is the head of the National Tobacco Control Committee on Article 5.3 (NTCC 5.3), which is the steering committee of FCTC Article 5.3. The said article ensures the proper creation and implementation of tobacco control laws and policies, which should be in compliance with the FCTC. The NTCC 5.3 is one of the sub-committees under the National Tobacco Control Committee headed by the DOH.
The CSC currently implements two tobacco control policies. In 2009, CSC issued Memorandum Circular No. 17 on Smoking Prohibition Based on 100% Smoke-free Environment Policy. It orders an absolute smoking ban in all government premises that provide health, education, and social welfare and development services. In 2010, the CSC and the Department of Health jointly issued a directive which banned all government officials and employees from interacting with the tobacco industry, unless when strictly necessary for effective regulation, supervision or control.
In the absence of DOH Secretary Paulyn Ubial, who had another commitment during the COP, the CSC Chairperson was identified by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as the head of delegation, being the next official in rank. The Head of the Delegation is not necessarily a subject expert but the highest ranking official in the country delegation who can articulate the position and politically correct stance in identifying local experience and best practices on the topic or subject matter at hand.
Philippines’ statement during the COP were agreed upon by the members of the Philippine Delegation and cleared by Secretary of Health. Further, during the COP, the Head of the Delegation also sought guidance from the Secretary of DOH on matters that require Philippines’ support to draft decisions being presented by the FCTC Bureau.
(Sgd.) Alicia Dela Rosa-Bala
Civil Service Commission
(Sgd.) Dr. Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial
Secretary, Department of Health
We hope that this statement will be given ample space in your publication as you continue to uphold the values of fairness and accuracy in news reporting.
Maria Luisa Salonga-Agamata
Public Assistance and
Civil Service Commission