PH got 3 ‘Dirty Ashtrays’ award; Locsin slammed for COP9 stand and for praising tobacco companies before the World Health Organization.
In a rare show of force, Philippine medical associations condemn the Foreign Affairs Secretary’s statement praising tobacco companies before the World Health Organization
“Nagkalát ang delegasyon ng Pilipinas… Nakakahiya at nakakalungkot (The Philippine delegation was a big mess. Shameful and depressing).”
This was the strong statement of former health secretaries and over forty medical and civil society groups on Sunday as they criticized Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary (DFA) Teodoro ‘Teddy Boy’ Locsin, Jr.’s remarks during the recently-concluded ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9) of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).
“We… strongly denounce the position of the Philippine delegation,” said the statement led by former health chiefs Esperanza Cabral, Paulyn Ubial, Carmencita Reodica, and Antonio Periquet. According to them, the Philippine delegation’s position led by Locsin “welcomed tobacco companies and their fronts and echoed their unscientific and profit-driven claims on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products”.
Locsin during the country’s official report touted vapes and e-cigarettes as “less harmful”. The top diplomat also praised tobacco companies for their “innovation in creating products that deliver satisfaction but with far less harm.”
“This is a shameful and painful insult to the families of the more than 320 Filipinos who die daily due to tobacco-related diseases,” the former health chiefs’ statement also said, co-signed by top medical associations like the Philippine Medical Association, Philippine College of Physicians, Philippine College of Chest Physicians, Philippine Pediatric Society, and the Philippine Neurological Society.
PH 3 Dirty Ashtrays award
During the COP9, the Philippine government was also the recipient of a total of three ‘Dirty Ashtray’ Awards, a lampoon award given by international watchdog Framework Convention Alliance to companies and governments seen as peddlers of tobacco industry interests. “The lampoon award is proof of the strong and rising tobacco industry interference in the Philippine government,” said the medical groups’ statement.
“It also proves that tobacco interests are front and center in the delegation’s agenda, while public health interests, the professional opinion of doctors and health experts, and even national government health authorities are sidelined and ignored,” according to them. The Department of Health (DOH), in a separate statement, opposed the DFA-led position.
“We condemn the brazen act to sideline the Philippine tobacco control agenda during the [COP9]. Especially in a pandemic, the government must help the medical community reaffirm rather than disregard the right of Filipinos to the highest standard of health,” the medical and civil society groups’ statement said. They also urged the President to “establish the DOH as the permanent lead in advancing public health interests” at the WHO FCTC.
“The government must protect and prioritize the health of all Filipinos over tobacco industry profit,” their statement concluded. ###
READ FULL STATEMENT BELOW:
WE DENOUNCE THE ATTACK ON PUBLIC HEALTH BY THE PRO-TOBACCO PH DELEGATION TO THE WHO TOBACCO CONTROL CONFERENCE
UNITY STATEMENT OF FORMER HEALTH OFFICIALS, PHILIPPINE MEDICAL ORGANIZATIONS, AND CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS AGAINST THE PH DELEGATION’S PRO-TOBACCO INDUSTRY POSITION DURING THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON TOBACCO CONTROL’S (WHO FCTC) NINTH CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES (COP9)
Public health is under attack by the tobacco industry and its proxies.
We, former health officials, medical organizations, and civil society groups, strongly denounce the position of the Philippine delegation to the Ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9) of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) that welcomed tobacco companies and their fronts and echoed their unscientific and profit-driven claims on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.
It is alarming that the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, in his statement on behalf of the Philippine delegation to COP9, praised tobacco use and the tobacco industry as being beneficial, echoed the tobacco industry’s illicit trade arguments against effective tobacco taxation, and called for and emphasized inclusion of all stakeholders, including the industry and its fronts.
This is a shameful and painful insult to the families of the more than 320 Filipinos who die daily due to tobacco-related diseases.
Assertions by the country’s top diplomat that e-cigarettes or vapes are “far less harmful” have no firmly established scientific basis and fly in the face of the rising evidence globally of the real harms of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products. There is insufficient scientific evidence and no medical consensus that these electronic smoking products are safer or healthier alternatives or that they help smokers quit. These products are serious health hazards, and no less than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has referred to these products as ‘toxic’, having issued strong measures to protect Filipinos against them.
The three Dirty Ashtray Awards received by the Philippine delegation at COP9 constitute a black mark on our efforts to curb the rising number of deaths caused by the tobacco industry. The lampoon award is proof of the strong and rising tobacco industry interference in the Philippine government. It also proves that tobacco interests are front and center in the delegation’s agenda, while public health interests, the professional opinion of doctors and health experts, and even national government health authorities are sidelined and ignored. This is a betrayal of the decades-long efforts of the Philippine public health community to protect the public from the tobacco industry’s deadly products.
We condemn the brazen act to sideline the Philippine tobacco control agenda during the COP9. Especially in a pandemic, the government must help the medical community reaffirm rather than disregard the right of Filipinos to the highest standard of health.
We urge the President to establish the Department of Health (DOH) as the permanent lead in advancing public health interests at the WHO FCTC COP. Rather than praising the tobacco industry, all government agencies should commit to stronger tobacco control policies and protect these policies against the deceitful tactics and strategies of tobacco companies.
Nagkalát ang delegasyon ng Pilipinas sa COP9 ng WHO FCTC. Nakakahiya at nakakalungkot.
There is no debate: we must protect the health of Filipinos, especially our youth from the deadly products of the tobacco industry. The government must protect and prioritize the health of all Filipinos over tobacco industry profit! #
DR. ANTONIO PERIQUET, Former DOH Secretary, 1992
DR. CARMENCITA REODICA, Former DOH Secretary, 1996-98
DR. ESPERANZA CABRAL, Former DOH Secretary, 2010
DR. PAULYN UBIAL, Former DOH Secretary, 2016-17
ATTY. ALEX PADILLA, Former PhilHealth President, 2013-15
Philippine Medical Association
Philippine Pediatric Society
Philippine Society of Public Health Physicians
Philippine Dental Association
Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine
Philippine Rheumatology Association
Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Inc.
Philippine Neurological Association
Philippine College of Physicians
Philippine College of Chest Physicians
Nutritionist Dietitians Association of the Philippines
Philippine Association of Nutrition, Inc.
Philippine Cancer Society, Inc.
Philippine Alliance of Patient Organizations, Inc.
Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc
UP Medical Students’ Society
Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance
Health Care Without Harm SE Asia
Smokefree Cities of Asia Pacific Network, Philippines
Iloilo City Antismoking Task Force
G-Watch (Government Watch)
Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development
Medical Action Group
Center for Policy Studies and Advocacy on Sustainable Development
Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK)
City Government of Baguio
ANG NARS Healthworkers Coalition (ANHC)
Seagulls Flock Organization, Inc.
Citizen Watch Philippines
Alliance for Improving Health Outcomes, Inc.
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines
Healthy Philippines Alliance
Health Alternatives for Total Human Development Institute, Inc.
LM Flores Management Consultancy Services
Child Neurology Society Philippines
Laban ng Masa
Philippine League Against Epilepsy, Inc.
Kalusugan ng Mag-ina, Inc.