CSC wants big­ger Om­buds­man role vs tobacco in­dus­try in­ter­fer­ence

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Top Stories -

THE Civil Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (CSC) on Fri­day pushed for the in­clu­sion of the Of­fice of the Om­buds­man in the ef­fort to pro­tect the govern­ment against in­ter­fer­ence from the tobacco in­dus­try.

In a press con­fer­ence launch­ing the Tobacco In­dus­try In­ter­fer­ence In­dex Coun­try Re­port 2017, CSC As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Ariel Ron­quillo said they are look­ing to in­clude the Om­buds­man as a party to the Joint Me­moran­dum Cir­cu­lar (JMC) 2010-01 the for­mer is­sued with the De­part­ment of Health (DOH).

CSC is now in the process of in­tro­duc­ing re­vi­sions to the JMC to strengthen it. We are plan­ning to in­clude the Om­buds­man in the JMC to pros­e­cute higher peo­ple in govern­ment,” said Ron­quillo.

He said the ini­tia­tive was prompted by the dif­fi­culty they cur­rently face in hold­ing ac­count­able erring top govern­ment of­fi­cials, such as the head of agen­cies.

“We know very well that the tobacco in­dus­try will ap­proach those that are at the ex­ec­u­tive level, whose dis­ci­plin­ing au­thor­ity is with the Om­buds­man,” said Ron­quillo.

“Peo­ple re­ported were usu­ally not un­der our ju­ris­dic­tion,” he fur­thered.

In 2010, the DOH and the CSC is­sued the JMC, which pro­hibits all of­fi­cials and

em­ploy­ees any in­ter­ac­tion with the tobacco in­dus­try, as well as the code of con­duct for govern­ment per­son­nel dur­ing nec­es­sary in­ter­ac­tions with the lat­ter.

The move is in ac­cor­dance with the pro­vi­sions of the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) - Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Tobacco Con­trol (FCTC) Ar­ti­cle 5.3, which aims to pro­tect pub­lic health poli­cies from tobacco in­dus­try in­ter­fer­ence.

Mean­while, the Tobacco In­dus­try In­ter­fer­ence In­dex Coun­try Re­port 2017 re­vealed that the in­dus­try con­tin­ues to find ways to make its pres­ence felt in govern­ment through its cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity (CSR) projects.

This, ac­cord­ing to pub­lic health pol­icy think tank Health Jus­tice Philip­pines, is de­spite the pre­vail­ing ban on govern­ment par­tic­i­pa­tion in CSR ac­tiv­i­ties of tobacco firms.

“Tobacco com­pa­nies are still vig­or­ously cir­cum­vent­ing health and tobacco con­trol poli­cies by ini­ti­at­ing part­ner­ships with govern­ment agen­cies, lo­cal govern­ment units, and pub­lic of­fi­cials un­der the guise of con­duct­ing cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity pro­grams,” said Health Jus­tice Pres­i­dent Mary Ann Fer­nan­dez-Men­doza.

Cit­ing as an ex­am­ple, Health Jus­tice pointed at the CSR arm of Mighty Cor­po­ra­tion, Wong Chu King Foun­da­tion, which had sup­pos­edly en­gaged in sev­eral ac­tiv­i­ties such as school feed­ing, and do­na­tions to po­lice sta­tions and schools in 2016.

“They hide be­hind their so-called foun­da­tions and wel­fare or­ga­ni­za­tions, de­ceiv­ing the pub­lic and au­thor­i­ties into be­liev­ing that they are not vi­o­lat­ing the JMC,” noted Men­doza.

Health Jus­tice, then, said it is im­por­tant that the ban on CSR part­ner­ships be­tween the govern­ment and tobacco firms must be ex­panded and must in­clude foun­da­tions and other pri­vate or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Men­doza also said there is a need to “de­nor­mal­ize” CSR ac­tiv­i­ties of tobacco com­pa­nies. SunS­tar Philip­pines

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