Alan Peter: We're anti-tobacco but appear to be otherwise

Alan Peter Cayetano: We’re anti-tobacco but appear to be otherwise

/ 10:51 PM February 21, 2024

“The problem for me is we present ourselves as anti-tobacco, but we are pro-tobacco.”

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano during one of the Senate hearings on February 13, 2024. Joseph Vidal / Senate Social Media Unit

MANILA, Philippines — “The problem for me is we present ourselves as anti-tobacco, but we are pro-tobacco.”

A frustrated Senator Alan Peter Cayeteno criticized the Philippine government for supposedly using tobacco farmers as an excuse to be lenient in terms of restricting tobacco industry.


“Let’s not say we are protecting the tobacco farmers here,” Cayetano said during the Senate Blue Ribbon panel’s hearing on Wednesday.


“Only P1 billion goes to the farmers but P159 billion goes to the tobacco capitalists. Kulang pa nga iyan kasi iyan lang yung net income nila,” he added.

(That’s not even enough because that’s their only net income.)

Cayetano’s remarks came after the Philippines received its 5th Dirty Ashtray award at the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control conference in Panama.

Dirty Ashtray Award is a recognition described as a public shaming tool that calls out countries influenced by lobbying from the tobacco industry.

In the same hearing, Atty. Hubert Dominic Guevara, senior deputy executive secretary and head of the Philippine delegation to the conference, explained that the “Dirty Ashtray” award may have been given to the country for statements and interpellations that supposedly delayed the agenda of the 10th Conference of Parties (COP10).

“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 first hand 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.

Later in the hearing, Cayetano said there are other ways to help farmers.

“We can help the farmers to plant something else. Marami pong technology [na available] ang Thailand, Vietnam, Israel. We have the money to support the farmers,” he pointed out.

(We can help the farmers to plant something else. Thailand, Vietnam, and Israel have a lot of technology [available]. We have the money to support the farmers.)

Meanwhile, the senator believes that the country’s tobacco problem may be solved in 10 years if the government really works on it.

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“Unless we have a program for the tobacco farmers to get richer, to shift and unless we block the tobacco lobby, many people will die because of tobacco related disease,” he said.

TAGS: Alan Peter Cayetano, hearing, Senate, Tobacco

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