FORMER health secretaries, medical sector groups and health advocates have slammed the tobacco industry for strategies that allegedly aim to ease tobacco control policies in the country.
In a statement on Sunday, they affirmed their support to Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 2010-01 signed by the Department of Health and the Civil Service Commission under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Several lawmakers recently called for a repeal of the circular after it was used as basis to block tobacco companies from purchasing vaccines against the coronavirus for the industry’s workers. The guidelines on vaccine purchase have since been altered to allow all private firms to buy doses.
The circular provides a code of conduct to avoid “tobacco industry interference” in policy-making.
“Let us be clear: in safeguarding Filipinos’ health, tobacco companies are neither allies nor friends,” the groups said in their joint statement.
“There is no doubt: the move to repeal the JMC is in the interest of the tobacco industry. Removing this important wall between the Philippine bureaucracy and tobacco influence is serving Filipinos’ health on a silver platter to the tobacco industry and its profit-driven interests,” they said.
Among the signatories were former health secretaries Jaime Galvez-Tan, Carmencita N. Reodica, Manual M. Dayrit and Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial.
They were joined by former health undersecretary Alexander A. Padilla, former health assistant secretary Agnette P. Peralta, former National Anti-Poverty Commission undersecretary Florencia C. Dorotan, and UP Manila Department of Health Policy and Administration chair Carmelita C. Canila.
Other signatories were law group ImagineLaw, Philippine Medical Association, Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. and Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, and 40 other health advocate groups.
Tobacco industry representatives could not be immediately reached for comment on Sunday. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas