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Press Release - Senators Alan, Pia decry PH delegation's 'pro-tobacco' stance

While the rest of the world is taking steps to curb smoking, the Philippines seems to be running in the other direction.

"The reality is that the Philippines, at this point in time, both with the law and with the representations made, is pro-tobacco," Senator Alan Peter Cayetano said in a recent Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the country's receipt of its fifth "Dirty Ashtray" award.

The independent senator made the observation as Senator Pia Cayetano, who is the first woman to chair the powerful committee, questioned the intention of the Philippine delegation that attended the 10th session of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

Senator Pia said the Dirty Ashtray award was given to the Philippines due to the delegation's "delaying tactics" in implementing Articles 9 and 10 of the FCTC which would mandate full product disclosure and testing measures on tobacco.

The delegation, whose members included tobacco industry players, "pretended" to represent the tobacco farmers but were actually "muddling the purpose for why we are participating in this conference."

"Kung farmers ang gusto mo proteksyonan, bakit mo pinipigilan y'ung mga Articles (9 and 10) tungkol sa testing at measuring (ng tobacco products)?" she said.

Senator Alan highlighted the tobacco industry's history of obscuring facts and withholding information on tobacco's harmful effects, which he said ultimately contribute to rising tobacco use especially among the youth.

Highlighting the dangers of smoking, Senator Alan said the country needs to be consistent in its stand against tobacco. "The problem for me is when we present ourselves as anti-tobacco, but we are pro-tobacco," he said.

Senator Alan also pointed out that the country's tobacco industry benefits only the capitalists and leaves the farmers with a small fraction of the industry's P160 billion annual earnings.

"Let's not say we are protecting the farmers here, kasi the farmers only get P1 billion, kulang pa 'yon," he said.

"I would like us to have a policy that will help farmers, help those who will be affected in the industry, and the young people," he added.

Habang ang ibang bahagi ng mundo ay