Police reluctance behind enforcement backlash vs smoke-free campaign in Tabaco City | BICOL TODAY

Police reluctance behind enforcement backlash vs smoke-free campaign in Tabaco City

By Elmer James Bandol

TABACO CITY, Albay (BicolToday.com) — “We are picking up the pieces from what we started three years ago”, said Bernadette Rodriguez, nurse and secretary of Smoke-Free Task Force (STF), here, as she is preparing for the documents needed for the nomination to the Red Orchids Awards 2018 of this “padyak capital” city.

According to Rodriguez, the remarkable performance of STF from 2014 to 2016 would serve as a strong foundation for the nomination even there was “reluctance” on the part of the police behind enforcement for the smokeless environment. They are now turning to information campaign by using padyak (bikecycle) that dominates in the city, more than the motorized tricycles.

The seriousness behind the campaign was observed during the time of Mayor Maria Josefa Demetriou, who started it all by reviewing the names of more than 3,000 employees of the local government, and those who were known hooked to smoking became first to avail of the cessation & counseling program.

Based on the report, the first salvo in implementing the Smoke-Free Ordinance after new members were named under the helm of Demetriou, 54 violators were apprehended and four reprimanded while more than 100 smoking employees of the City Hall were warned.

While the campaign against smoking was smoothly going on, letter from the hierarchy of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Camp Crame was circulated last 2015. Said letter was signed by a certain Police Director Samuel Diciano, Directorate for operations.

According to City Health Officer Dr. Audwin C. Azada, due to Diciano’s letter that seemingly questioned the implementation of an anti-smoking local ordinance (Ordinance 019-2011), their campaign was affected for the reasons that:

1. Police Director Diciano had ruled out without the benefit of court final ruling being extensive in coverage is violating the purpose of RA 9211, which gave direction to PNP to adhere to the national law and disregard the local ordinance.;

2. Had caused demoralization in the local implementers, especially when the chief executive would enforce the ordinance but the police would not follow.:

3. The director showed arrogance by disregarding the local authority.

Exchange of written arguments reached the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) that decided in favor of the local government of Tabaco City before the Sangguniang Panglunsod declared Diciano as “perona non grata”.

Learning lessons from the past, STF has to focus on information and education campaign for the smoke-free city using padyak milling around the city with graphics on smoking printed on tarpaulin, hanged inside and outside the vehicles.

Like starting from scratch, STF has asked the local legislative body to allocate funds for the STF operations and campaign.

To date, training for 25 enforcers was made and 75 more are to be trained, according to Rodriguez. Fines derived from smoke-free apprehensions were asked from the Treasurer’s Office that 20% of which would be given as incentives to enforcers while 80% for information, education campaign, Rodriguez added.

Under Mayor Krisel Lagman Luistro’s administration, business establishments were obliged to provide “smokers area” for their clients and customers while the city is still in search for a place to be marked “for smokers also”. She devised her predecessor’s executive order and penned her own last Aug. 29, 2017.

Executive Order 018 has deputized identified government and non-government personnel and persons as “smoke-free enforcers” with duties and functions to wit:

1. Issue Smoke-Free Citation Tickets by the Treasurer subject to government accounting;

2. Apprehend violators including non-compliant establishments;

3. Assist City Treasurer, in coordination with the City Legal Office in filling cases to non-paying violators and non-compliant establishments;

4. Enforcers are entitled to appropriate police assistance in the performance of their functions and

5. Wear approved insignia and identifications.

Mostly deputized enforcers are holding permanent positions in the local government in addition to their mandate, assigned tasks, and functions.

Luistro is a nurse by profession and served as chief executive of Tabaco City for 12 years when she lost to Demetriou during elections in 2014. She bounced back as mayor last 2016 after Demetriou decided not to run for re-election. [BicolToday.com]

Posted by on June 10, 2018. Filed under Bicol News,Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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