Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. called on Congress to proceed with the investigation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its alleged acceptance of foreign grants.

“The FDA must issue science-based regulations and probe into erring officials who are serving the private agenda of foreign private organizations by advancing anti-vaping policies instead of objective and workable regulations,” Garbin said.

FDA officials, during a public consultation late last year, admitted that the agency received grants from the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The FDA issued an order in January this year laying down the guidelines for the regulation of vapor products and heated tobacco products.

Rep. Estrellita Suansing described as “premature” the FDA’s issuance of the administrative order amid unresolved issues raised by stakeholders and the call for a congressional probe on FDA’s supposed receipt of foreign funds.

“Despite the unfinished public consultation on the FDA’s draft guidelines and numerous unresolved matters raised by legislators and stakeholders alike, the FDA, through the Department of Health, still proceeded to issue their regulations, without any prior notice or resolution. For whatever reason, it’s as if the valid concerns raised were deliberately ignored,” Suansing said.

Garbin expressed fear that public officials could be benefiting from foreign grants.

“While I commend foreign private institutions that support government initiatives, I condemn moves to hijack government policy decisions. I call on the FDA to maintain its objectivity and not allow non-government organizations and their agents in government to run the agency,” the lawmaker said.

He said that once the congressional probe starts, he would question if there were government officials personally benefiting from foreign grants and hold them accountable for violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices law.

“Monetary consideration could have motivated officials in the FDA to push for Bloomberg policies, giving a foreign private organization unwarranted advantage and influence over our national policies. This will definitely be investigated in Congress,” Garbin said.