The Department of Education (DepEd) last Friday reminded teachers and school officials to refrain from accepting gifts, donations, and sponsorships directly and indirectly from the tobacco industry, including those that may be coursed through agency’s stakeholders partners or third parties in the guise of corporate social responsibility projects.
Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones issued the reminder in time for the conduct of 2018 Brigada Eskwela beginning May until before the opening of classes on June 4, in compliance with DepEd Order (DO) 48, series of 2016, or Policy Guidelines on Comprehensive Tobacco Control.
We welcome partners who can work with us in fulfilling our mandate and in promoting the theme for this year’s Brigada, “Pagkakaisa para sa Handa, Ligtas at Matatag na Paaralan Tungo sa Magandang Kinabukasan”; however, we cannot consider as partners those industries that undermine our efforts to fulfill our mandate, which includes the promotion of healthy environment in schools through our tobacco policies,” Briones said.
Brigada, otherwise known as the National Schools Maintenance Week, brings together education stakeholders to participate and contribute time, effort and resources to prepare public-school facilities. However, the DepEd said companies and other players in the tobacco industry are not among these stakeholders.
The reminder applies not only during the conduct of Brigada but throughout the year. Given this, schools are reminded to exercise due diligence to ensure that sponsorships and donations received are not from foundations and non-government organizations funded by tobacco companies (including retailers of tobacco products).
As a safeguard, DO 48 requires all DepEd offices and schools to “include a provision in all memoranda of agreement entered into with donors and partners stating full commitent of all parties concerned to tobacco-control implementation and stipulating that said donor or partner does not represent the interests of, or receive funding from, the tobacco industry.”
The department order is anchored on the joint memorandum circular (JMC) issued by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Department of Health in 2010, which states that interaction of public officials and employees with the tobacco industry is permitted “only when strictly necessary for the latter’s effective regulation, supervision or control.”
Violations of the provisions of the JMC shall be reported to the CSC, as per the Commission’s Guide for Resolving/Filing Cases of Tobacco Industry Interference in the Bureaucracy.