Cayetano: Why would we want to be associated with 'Dirty Ashtray' award?

Cayetano: Why would we want to be associated with ‘Dirty Ashtray’ award?

/ 05:46 PM February 21, 2024

pia cayetano dirty ashtray award tobacco

Sen. Pia Cayetano (Bibo Nueva España/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Pia Cayetano fumed over the notorious Dirty Ashtray Award accorded to Philippine delegates who supposedly blocked global tobacco efforts on the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in Panama.

Speaking at the Senate Blue Ribbon committee’s hearing on Wednesday, Cayetano explained that the Dirty Ashtray Award is a publicly recognized award to “call out those influenced by lobbying for the tobacco industry.”


In her opening remarks, Cayetano said the Dirty Ashtray Award was accorded to the Philippine delegation for the 5th time on the last day of the 10th session of WHO FCTC.


READ: PH gets 5th ‘Dirty Ashtray’ in tobacco control convention 

“Bakit tayo nagkaroon ng (Why did we get a) Dirty Ashtray award? Why would we want our Philippine delegation associated with a Dirty Ashtray award? Why would we want to be known as succumbing to the lobby of the tobacco group?” she asked.

“Imbes na itaguyod at ipaglaban ang kalusugan ng mamamayang Pilipino, nag-attend ang napakaraming opisyales dito sa WHO event. So kasama din yun sa gusto nating alamin,” she added.

(Instead of promoting and fighting for the health of the Filipino people, many officials attended the WHO event. So that is also what we want to know.)

‘Largest delegation’

According to Cayetano, it was not an issue that Filipinos joined the event, but the problem lies with the number of Philippine government officials who attended the conference.


“Naga-attend din po ako ng conference. Pero itong conference na ito, ang Pilipinas ang may pinakamalaking delegation,” said Cayetano.

(I also attend conferences. But at this conference, the Philippines has the largest delegation.)

Later in the hearing, it was disclosed that the Philippines sent 34 delegates to the event.

Atty. Hubert Dominic Guevara, senior deputy executive secretary and head of the Philippine delegation to the conference, then admitted that the Philippine government may have exaggerated a bit in sending delegates.

“I thought it was a regular thing that actually we have a whole nation [or] whole of government approach, and this is how it would come out as a delegation to the COP10 (10th Conference of Parties),  but having [seen] … after seeing the memories, maybe I could say medyo…medyo exaggerated. We could have limited the number of delegations to those [that] matter most,” said Guevarra.

Cayetano said she personally wanted to hear from all of those who participated what their contributions were in the conference as well as their knowledge on the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarettes.

“I will test your knowledge because if you are attending these conferences, then I am assuming that you are going to be participating there in a substantial way,” she said.

‘Balanced policy approach’

Guevara explained that the Dirty Ashtray Award may have been given to the Philippine delegation for statements and interpellations that supposedly delayed the agenda of the COP10.

He likewise said that the Philippines stood on its “balanced policy approach,” raising concern not only about health but also the welfare of tobacco farmers.

READ: From ashes of tobacco business rise new ventures

“I must admit that it was very difficult to articulate the position based on the balanced policy approach; I was very particular with the words that I used. My father died of lung cancer; I saw firsthand the effects of smoking — the pain and suffering it causes. So it’s difficult for me to balance what I did to protect the rights of all people in life,” said Guevara.

“But if by protecting our state policy, the 30,000 or more families whose lives were dependent on tobacco farming and the rest of our countrymen who are able to avail the benefits our healthcare system funded by the excise taxes on tobacco, we are given the Dirty Ashtray Award, then I am willing to own it up as a head of delegation,” he added.

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He then apologized to Cayetano and the rest of the Filipino people, who may have felt embarrassed after the country was accorded the award.

TAGS: Dirty Ashtray award, Pia Cayetano, Tobacco

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