In a letter to the chairman Sixto Brillantes survey, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance, Philippines (FCAP), the parent organization of groups and individuals from medical and professional organizations, religious youth and environmental groups are actively involved in supporting tobacco control laws against Agricultural Development Association candidates whose nominations are closely identified with the tobacco industry.
ADA, the party list group representing farmers accredited Comelec but lost in the sector over the last elections, again vying to get a seat in Congress in 2013 survey. Party list law requires that 20 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives shall consist of marginal groups.
Party list, is said to be represented by Eric Singson, Eric Singson Jr., Rodolfo Salanga, Blake Clinton Dy, Grace Christine Meehan chanted, and Victor Manuel Jr.
“Four nominees ADA are rich, powerful and influential because of their individual or family wealth or political and economic ties, they have honed and developed over the years. They are not marginal enough. They are rich people who use the poor, marginalized sector hoping to get a seat in Congress, “said FCAP in his Aug. 27 letter to the Comelec.
Eric Singson was a former congressman from the 2nd district of Ilocos Sur whiles his son, Eric Singson Jr., the acting representative of the same district.
FCAP said that Comelec Section 2 7941 or Republic Act requires the party-list nominees industry participants “belong to marginalized and underserved sectors, organizations and parties.”
“This is an insult to the true marginal groups, the tobacco industry supported organization like ADA was allowed to misrepresent themselves as the legitimate movement of party lists. Imprint tobacco industry throughout the ADA and its candidates. Comelec should immediately disqualify this group,” said Roberto del Rosario, president of FCAP, in a statement.
The group also questioned the line of ADA nominees, when these people were not the founders, nor any member of a group of farmers.
In a manifestation of intent to participate in the election of 2013 presented to the Comelec, ADA list of founders and officials: Andres Tungpalan, Santos Fiesta, Fely Sylvester, Catalina Valeriano, and Rosalina Cruz.
“This is not just a clear distortion of the agricultural sector, but a direct attack on our electoral process. Tobacco industry and its beneficiaries, in business and in government should not be allowed to make a parody of the most noble intentions election party list, which provides opportunities for the marginalized to to have a voice in the government, “said Del Rosario.
Meanwhile, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) said that the invasion tobacco industry policy through fielding and funding organizations pseudo list of the “disturbing” given the current sin tax debate in the Senate.
“From being a strong lobby in Asia, the tobacco industry in the Philippines is now positioning itself to enter the government to suppress the efforts of health advocates push for tobacco control efforts to reduce cigarette consumption and saving children from smoking,” said Dr. p Ulysses Dorotheo, project director for the Southeast Asia Initiative on Tobacco Tax SEATCA.
Dorotheo said the multi-billion peso tobacco industry is now targeting Asia as a potential market, as it loses its handle in the West, where the tough measures on tobacco control took place.
“The Philippines has one of the highest numbers of smokers in South-East Asia at 17.3 million, and the highest youth smoking in the region, is an important market for the industry. Industry will do everything, including the undermining of laws and policies, just to maintain their dominance in this region, “said Dorotheo.
By late September, Comelec to release the final list of accredited party list organizations qualified to run for election next year.
Earlier this week, a variety of doctors and health experts insist on the immediate adoption of the disputed tax bill by sin, which is still under consideration by the Senate yesterday urged the public not to vote for the so-called “anti-health” of lawmakers and politicians.
Health Minister Enrique Ona, Dr. Anthony Leachon, who is a consultant to the Ministry of Health on non-communicable diseases, and the former Minister of Health, Dr. Alberto Romualdez ever made a single call to the public, as they feared that the sin tax bill would be “watered down” as a result of persistent lobbying by some “anti-sin tax bill” groups in Congress.
In its quest to bring the game in Congress at fair level, health experts asked voters Tuesday to withdraw its support of politicians that will support the downgraded version of the bill.
“I urge everyone not to vote for those who do not support and reproductive health and Bill Bill sin tax”, Dr. Romualdez told reporters at a seminar for the media on health issues in Manila on Thursday.
For Dr. Leachon, he believes that the public can make a difference to the sin tax bill, which he said could help the government in its ambitious goal of 100 percent, universal health care by 2015, pressing his elected representatives in Congress to pass a controversial bill.
“It is time for everyone to think about the people they elected, and that civil society should choose the right leaders,” said Dr. Leachon. “We have to get them to vote for a tax bill sin.” (Leonard D. Postrado)