MANILA, Philippines — Foreign non-public organizations could attempt to affect the Philippines’ nationwide insurance policies via grants awarded to authorities companies — which is “an attack” on the nation’s sovereignty.
Deputy Speaker Deogracias Victor Savellano and Rep. Jericho Nograles of the Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta party-list group repeated that warning in an announcement issued on Monday.
It was the identical warning they gave throughout a congressional listening to carried out final March 16 by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability on the regulation of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco merchandise (HTPs).
At that listening to, the 2 lawmakers famous that Director-General Eric Domingo of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) admitted that his company acquired grants to assist policy improvement from overseas anti-tobacco teams underneath the Bloomberg Philanthropies.
“I called for this investigation to find out the truth,” Savellano mentioned at the listening to. “Did the FDA issue specific and pre-defined policies on e-cigarettes and HTPs in exchange for funding from foreign private organizations? Is this the reason why the FDA in its one-sided and less-than-transparent virtual public hearing could not give the public a real opportunity to flesh out important provisions and requirements for the regulation of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products?”
For his half, Nograles mentioned: “This is not about the FDA only. The bigger issue here is do we allow government agencies to be influenced by monies coming from foreign private organizations? What we are looking at here is a constitutional violation, an attack on the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines, our independence itself. That is the big problem.”
According to Nograles, a number of authorities companies have acquired a complete of $2.5M from The Union, which is funded by the anti-tobacco advocacy Bloomberg Initiative.
Nograles detailed the grants acquired by varied companies.
• In 2009, the Department of Health (DOH) acquired a complete of $742,441 for the event and enforcement of local authorities smoke-free ordinances.
• In 2010, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) acquired $206,701 for a similar goal.
• In 2010, the Department of Health acquired$369,877 for tobacco management insurance policies, the identical 12 months the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and DOH Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 2010-01 was issued. “I believe that this JMC is also unconstitutional,” Nograles mentioned.
• In 2012, the MMDA once more acquired $180,000 for smoke-free metropolis ordinances.
• In 2013, the DOH acquired $150,000 for the implementation of tobacco management insurance policies and the CSC acquired $150,000 to boost consciousness of and compliance with the policy to exclude tobacco trade interference.
• In 2014, the DOH acquired $192,000 for the National Tobacco Control Strategy.
• In 2015, the Department of Education (DepEd) acquired $158,039 for its tobacco promoting ban marketing campaign.
• In 2016, the CSC acquired $183,695 and the MMDA acquired US$160,000.
“The FDA has conducted multiple researches and consultations with different groups, and these groups they consulted with are also funded by The Union and Bloomberg Initiative. There have been multiple instances wherein every time there is an anti-tobacco regulation that comes out of either the FDA or DOH, it coincides with grants coming from Bloomberg,” Nograles famous.
“We cannot treat this as mere coincidence because this happened in [the course of several] years,” he added.
Multiple job orders
Nograles then referred to the assertion of FDA Director Anna Rivera throughout the listening to wherein she confirmed that the FDA employed a number of job orders in behalf of The Union and granted completely different wage grades to those personnel.
“This is the problem. The FDA has received money from a private organization that is opposed to a legitimate industry in the country, and that money was utilized to hire persons as job orders and given salary grades under our laws to conduct anti-tobacco projects,” Nograles mentioned.
Under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, the FDA isn’t allowed to rent personnel on behalf of The Union, Nograles defined.
“The FDA said that it does not in any way act as an agent of The Union. I agree, but suddenly you are hiring personnel in behalf of The Union. The FDA said that The Union is not a client registering a product. That is correct, but The Union can be influential in blocking the registration of a product,” he mentioned.
Savellano, who represents the tobacco-producing province of Ilocos Sur, criticized the FDA for drafting proposed tips on e-cigarettes and HTPs that have been much more restrictive than laws for flamable cigarettes, which his constituents had decried as a de facto ban on these different nicotine merchandise.
“As government officials, we are expected to be fair, objective and transparent in issuing and implementing public policies. We hope that through this investigation, we can better protect our independence and sovereignty so that we do not become an easy target for foreign private entities that wish to interfere with our national policies,” Savellano mentioned.
“I understand that the FDA is only doing their job; we are not out to lynch the FDA and other government agencies,” mentioned Nograles. “We want a healthier country, but at the same time we also want our laws to be followed.”
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