Smoking in Davao City dangerous to life and limb

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In 2002, the city of Davao enacted its Comprehensive Anti-Smoking ordinance. This ordinance was further enhanced and strengthened on its 11th year of implementation by Ordinance No. 0367-12, series of 2012, also known as the New Anti–Smoking Ordinance.

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Violation of a city ordinance means a citation ticket and a fine. To fully implement the ordinance, an anti-smoking task force was formed. According to its head, Dr. Domilyn Villarreiz, a violator has the option to either contest the alleged violation in court or voluntarily pay the penalty of P500 within three days from apprehension to avoid being prosecuted.

The no contest provision can only be availed once and that the violator has undergone cessation counseling. Refusal or failure to undergo such counseling warrants the filing of a case in court.

Aside from the issuance of a citation ticket, the new ordinance prohibits smoking of any tobacco product including e-cigarettes, shishas and the like, in all accommodation and entertainment establishments, workplaces, enclosed public places, partially enclosed public places, public buildings, public outdoor spaces and all public conveyances, government-owned vehicles and other means of public transport within the territorial jurisdiction of Davao City.

Likewise, the designated smoking area of commercial and business establishments should be located in an open outdoor space with no permanent or temporary roof or walls located 10 meters away from entrances or exits with an area not larger than five square meters. Owners of establishments caught violating this provision will be fined a maximum of P5,000 or jailed for four months.

Last month, during the Kadayawan festival, an unnamed local tourist literally got a taste of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s iron hand when the former challenged the anti-smoking ordinance.

In a social media post by former North Cotabato Governor Manny Piñol, he said: “one night, during the week-long Kadayawan Festival held last month, a restaurant owner alerted the police of a Filipino tourist who insisted on smoking while drinking beer.

Informed by the restaurant owner that smoking inside public places is prohibited in Davao City, the smoker defiantly asked: “On whose orders?

Bakit pera ba ni Duterte ang binibili ko ng sigarilyo?” (“Why, am I using Duterte’s money in buying cigarettes?”)

The arrogant response irked the restaurant owner who is a friend of the mayor. He immediately alerted the police and asked them to inform Duterte of the defiant smoker.

Minutes later, Mayor Duterte walked into the restaurant. The arrogant smoker was ashen-faced and immediately dropped his cigarette and stepped on it.

Witnesses said Duterte calmly sat beside the smoker, pulled out a snub-nosed .38 revolver and poked it at the man’s crotch.

“Papiliin kita: barilin ko ang b…g mo, i-preso kita o kainin mo ang upos ng sigarilyo mo,” Duterte reportedly told the smoker. (I will give you three choices: I shoot your b…ls, I send you to jail or you eat your cigarette butt.) The smoker reportedly muttered “Sorry mayor,” picked up his cigarette butt and swallowed it.

Witnesses said that before Duterte left, he told the smoker: “Never ever challenge the law.”

The incident drew mixed reactions from the public. As expected, the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) through their head, Chito Gascon, said: “All public officials are expected to perform their duties which include the execution or enforcement of all laws and ordinances with due regard.” Gascon added: “All persons must be treated with utmost respect and dignity to which they are entitled to as a human being. That is the essence of human rights. That is also consistent with our accepted ethical values found in the golden rule – we all know right from wrong.”

Hmmm. Chito is that you? I remember Gascon very well when I was still a budding broadcast journalist in the province. Back then, he was my studio guest on my radio show. Of course I did my research on who he was. However, as a matter of courtesy and to give my guests the privilege, it has been my style to ask how they would like to be introduced. More often than not, my guest would only say “just my name.” But Gascon was different. He insulted me by saying just google my name and you will know me. A taste of his intellectual arrogance! Forgive me if I show bias because of Gascon’s arrogance. I simply don’t believe in his moral ascendancy to lead CHR.

Back to the seemingly dirty Harry scene in Davao. I commend Rodrigo Duterte’s passion to implement the law in his authentic brand of iron leadership. Sometimes it is but proper to be bad for some people to be good.

If we only have 10 Dutertes in the Philippines, we will not only save the rising statistics of 10 Filipinos dying every hour from illnesses caused by smoking but also prevent our country’s losses of nearly P500 billion annually from healthcare costs and productivity losses as reported by an anti-tobacco group.

But why look for 10 if we can have one for all of us?

So smokers, beware! Smoking in Davao is fatal.

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