MMDA appeals TRO versus smoking ban
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Friday appealed a Mandaluyong court ruling stopping the agency from enforcing its antismoking campaign in public areas in Metro Manila.
In its motion for reconsideration, the MMDA cited its authority in enforcing the policy, which was based on Republic Act No. 9211, or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, the smoking prohibitions of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and ordinances of local government units.
“There is no factual or legal basis for the issuance of the temporary restraining order,” the MMDA said in its motion.
MMDA chair Francis Tolentino added that the agency was given the authority by the Quezon City government to enforce the smoking ban in the city.
On Aug. 15, Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court Branch 213 Judge Carlos Valenzuela issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) based on the petition filed by security guards Anthony Clemente and Vrianne Lamson. Both were fined P500 each by the MMDA for smoking on a sidewalk in Cubao, Quezon City, last month.
The TRO enjoined the MMDA from enforcing the no-smoking campaign in open areas not covered by the definition of public places under RA 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 for 20 days.
According to Tina Velasco, MMDA assistant general manager and spokesperson, the agency doubts the integrity of the petition filed by the complainants.
“We cited Clemente’s first statement wherein he admitted that he was only used,” Velasco said.
On Tuesday, Clemente reportedly admitted in a television interview that he filed the case because he was promised money by a tobacco firm. But the following day, he executed an affidavit denying the news report.
His lawyer, Luis de la Paz, dismissed as “unreliable” the news report that his client was offered money to file the petition. He said that Clemente was misquoted because he was rattled and confused by the TV reporter’s question.
De la Paz also denied the claim made by HealthJustice, a group advocating tobacco control, that Gonzales Batiller David Leabres Reyes & Associates, the law firm he works for—was representing Philip Morris.
But in an interview Thursday, he admitted that his law firm did some consultancy work for the tobacco company from 2001 to 2004.
Tobacco giant Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) also distanced itself from the complainants, saying the latter “are not and have never been employees of the company.” It added that the firm was not a party to the case and “has nothing whatsoever to do with the filing of the case.”
PMFTC also denied paying the P100,000 bond required by the court.
The MMDA also plans to void Clemente’s environmental ticket because of his statement in the television interview that he intentionally smoked in a public place to get arrested.
Meanwhile, the MMDA said it would continue enforcing the smoking ban in other areas because the TRO only covers sidewalks and major thoroughfares.
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