Health advocates hit Mandaluyong judge for halting MMDA antismoking ordinance
As expected, health groups lambasted Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court Judge Carlos Valenzuela who has stopped the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority from implementing an antismoking ordinance pending the resolution of a complaint filed by two men apprehended earlier for violating the regulation.
The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines and the Philippine Medical Association said the writ of preliminary injunction issued by Valenzuela meant that more people would be getting sick from nicotine addiction and the ill effects of second-hand smoking.
“We mourn the death of more Filipinos as the tobacco companies continue to deny us of our basic human right to health protection. With the injunction now in place, the tobacco industry succeeded in their strategy to undermine government’s tobacco control efforts through their highly funded legal machinery,” FCAP executive director Maricar Limpin said in a statement.
PMA president Dr. Oscar Tinio called on the court to decide on the case soon and uphold public health, adding, “We respect the authority of our honorable courts to decide on legal matters mainly because they are the proper venue for this. However, the life and health of our people should not be held hostage to legal battles nor technicalities of the law.”
Tinio pointed out that scientific evidence worldwide have shown that smoking kills and that second-hand and third-hand smoke equally kills people.
“In this situation, we understand that due process must be observed to protect the rights of all involved. We, however, maintain that the right of a nonsmoker to life is supreme vis-à-vis the right of a smoker to engage in his useless and life threatening vice or addiction. So in this case, we appeal to our authorities that due process should be expedited for the greater interest and protection of our people” Tinio said.
Limpin claimed the tobacco companies were “always ready to pounce” on any public health initiative to protect the people and the courts have become their partners in successfully railroading these initiatives.
“We cite the tobacco industry as the one responsible for the death of 6-10 Filipinos every hour due to tobacco-related diseases. Blood is in their hands as they continue to sabotage tobacco control efforts of the government,” she said.
FCAP said the Filipino people should rally behind the government’s antismoking drive “because the tobacco industry has no right to deny the people of their right to health protection.”
Tinio, for his part, said “a smoker’s right to engage in his addiction stops where a nonsmoker’s supreme right to life begins.”
“We are appealing to our nonsmoking public to stand up for their basic rights to breathe clean, healthy and smoke-free air around them,” he added.
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