The city government of Puerto Princesa is determined to start implementing the recently enacted national ban on smoking in public places, even as officials acknowledged they are facing difficulties to strictly enforce it.
City Councilor Roy Ventura said recently they have already passed a resolution to implement the executive order, acknowledging the health risks of public smoking.
“Mayroon na kaming naipasang ordinansa tungkol d’yan at ‘yung Philippine National Police ang may police powers d’yan pati City Health Office. Kasi gusto nating protektahan ang kalusugan ng mga second-hand smokers,” Ventura said.
Mendoza PNP Chief Police Senior Inspector Mark Allen Palacio said they are waiting for the implementing rules and regulations of the smoking ban.
“Hinihintay pa namin ang rules and regulation pero ang maganda dito ay ‘yung iniimplement ng Oplan Linis at kapag nakita ng mga pulis na may naninigarilyo ng public ay pwede silang sitahin ng mga pulis,” he said.
Even health authorities have acknowledged the difficulty of implementing the ban.
“You can’t ban lifestyle, kahit anong sabihin mo na bawal, ang behavior nasa tao pa din, lalo na kung sila lang ‘yung nandoon sa place na ‘yun mababantayan mo pa ba sila pero syempre as it is ban nga ayaw naman natin na magkaroon ng ito ng epekto sa publiko,” Dr. Ricardo Panganiban, City health officer, said.
Pres. Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order 26 in May, prohibiting smoking in public and enclosed areas across the country. There is also an existing law banning public smoking under Republic Act 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003.
EO 26 defined public areas as places, fixed or mobile, that are accessible or open to the public or places for collective use, regardless of ownership or right to access, including but not limited to schools, work places, government facilities, establishments that provide foods and drinks, accommodations and professional services; outdoor spaces like playgrounds, sports centers, church grounds, hospitals, transportation terminals, markets, parks, resorts, waiting areas, walkways and sidewalks, elevators and stairwells, fire hazard locations and public transportation.
Even without the clear implementation guidelines of the anti-smoking policy, some local establishments have started adopting the regulation.
“Na-inform na po kami na bawal na po ang ang manigarilyo dito sa store namin. Sabi po sa amin ng nangangasiwa dito sa baywalk na ituro daw po namin na sa likod lang ng store pwedeng manigarilyo. May mga cooperative naman, at napapaliwanagan naman po ng maayos ‘yung mga hindi agad nasunod. Kasi sinasabi namin na pati sila mamumultahan kapag natiyempohan sila. Sumusunod naman po,” a restaurant manager of an establishment in Baywalk said.