PNP: No abuse in arrest of vapers
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday brushed aside worries of possible abuse in the arrest of those caught using vape or e-cigarettes in public spaces.
“We assure that there would be no abuses. If there is, tell me,” PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa said in a press briefing at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
Following the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to ban the importation and use of vape in public areas, Gamboa said the police will arrest those who will be caught violating the directive.
He said violators will be brought to police stations so their offense can be recorded in the police blotter, but they will also be released afterward since there is still no new executive order defining penalties for vaping in public.
“We can arrest, but we cannot punish. Arrest is not punishment, remember,” Gamboa explained.
There has not been a report of an arrest on vapers after the President’s order as of posting time. “A lot of people are heeding” to the directive, said Gamboa.
“Ang suggestion ko nga, wag niyo na kaming i-challenge. Very simple lang naman eh. Wag na tayo gumamit ng vape. If you want to use vape, use it in private places, not in public places. ‘Yun lang naman ang request namin,” he said.
(I suggest to vapers not to challenge us. It is very simple. Just don’t use vape. If you want to use vape, use it in private places, not in public places. That is our only request.)
Gamboa said the PNP will apprehend those caught vaping in public “just to implement the directive of the President” and since the agency is “just exercising police powers of protecting public interest which is public health.”
He said the “references” for the arrests are Duterte’s order and Executive Order No. 26 issued in 2017, which banned smoking in public areas.
EO 26, however, does not explicitly include vaping. The Department of Health issued Administrative Order No. 2019-0007 in June to include vaping in the order, but its implementation was suspended by a Pasig Regional Trial Court in October.
“If you include vape in that EO, it’s actually an expansion of the definition of smoking kaya sabi pwede i-implement agad (that’s why we could implement it immediately) because it’s an expansion of the definition of smoking,” said Gamboa.
“However, in the absence of publication which is required for any state to impose punitive action, hence another EO is required for it to be published and then saka nagkaroon ng (there will be) punishment,” he also said.
Edited by MUF
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