Church slams court ruling on total ban of cigarettes
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — The Diocese of Balanga has committed to rally behind the Balanga City government to help defend a 2016 antitobacco ordinance that a court struck down for imposing a total ban on all cigarette products.
Bishop Ruperto Santos said the July 5 decision by a regional trial court (RTC) was a “disappointing and disgusting decision” that undermined what he described as a city ordinance that “is preventive and protects especially children and the youth from future sickness.”
The decision, issued by Judge Philger Noel Inovejas of RTC Branch 93 in Balanga, said the ordinance “illegally amends, modifies and expands the prohibitions.”
The court specifically addressed Section 1 of the ordinance, which bans cigarette smoking as well as the sale, distribution, advertising and promotion of tobacco products within the 80-hectare University Town and its 3-kilometer radius in Balanga.
The lawsuit was filed by Philippine Tobacco Institute (PTI), an organization of cigarette manufacturers.
“We only seek that these [tobacco control] measures be consistent with what has been provided for in the national law (Republic Act No. 9211, which enforces a health-oriented regulation of tobacco),” PTI said in a statement.
Santos said the judge and cigarette makers should “consider people over profit, general welfare over personal or [financial] interest, health and better life of the people rather than material and monetary gains.”
“The lives of our people are more important, more valuable, priceless compared to Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing Inc. losing P15 million [monthly] in sales due to the ban,” he said.
“We pray and hope that a health- and life-promoting city ordinance would be upheld in the end,” he added. —Tonette Orejas
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