Compliance to health edicts yield award, zero firecracker-related incidents

BAGUIO CITY  – Due to strict compliance to health edicts, the city received its 2nd Red Orchid Award from the Department of Health (DOH) for the second consecutive year with a score of 98.9%.

The city also had zero firecracker related incidents for the year 2020, as reported by City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) head Dr. Donna Tubera-Panes.

As to the Red Orchid Award, the city vies for its third consecutive Red Orchid in 2022 which would pave the way to its being on the hall of fame. The 2020 competition has been moved due to the pandemic, thus the competition would be based on the 2021implemetation and accomplishment, it was reported.

Said award is the highest distinction to agencies and the local government unit as to the World Health Organization (WHO) framework and standards.

As to being tobacco and smoke-free, the implementation and activities of the city are based on City Ordinance 34-2017 or the Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance which regulates the sale, distribution, advertisement and use of tobacco and tobacco products, including Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS), in certain areas of the city.

Smoke-free enforcers are deployed around the city to strictly implement the provisions in the ordinance, with penalties due the violators. A P1,000; P2,000, P3,000 penalty for the first , second and third violations for smoking and vaping are being implemented, with imprisonment or suspension of business permit with penalty for subsequent violations.

Advertisement and promotions ban penalties are pegged at P2,000; P3,000 and P5,000 for the first, second and third violation, with imprisonment, suspension or revocation of permit for the subsequent offenses.

In the ordinance, the Civil Service Commission (CSC), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and the Local Government joined forces for its strict implementation. Government agencies are enjoined by the CSC to strictly follow the provisions; the LTFRB urged the posting of ‘no smoking’ signages and that drivers/operators caution passengers against smoking in public vehicles.

The local government code also implements provision of Republic Act 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 with a task force headed by Mayor Benjamin Magalong. Members of the TF include the Health Service Office (HSO), Department of Education (Dep-Ed), Permits and Licensing Division (PLD), Baguio City Police Office (BCPO), City Treasurers Office, Environment and Parks Management Office, Liga ng mga barangay, City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), Human Resources Management (HRMO) and City Administrators Office.

ENDS or vaping is also prohibited in public places, thus no purchases, no selling or display or facilitating of such products should be done. Signages should also be posted where ENDS are used, the ordinance states.

Smoking areas are allowed limitedly but should not be in places where human traffic congregates, nor should there be food or drinks served in the area.

The provisions in the ordinance were all based on scientific findings that there are no safe levels of exposure to smoke, and that filtration or separate ventilation is ineffective.

The explanatory note also maintains; “The enjoyment and highest attainable standard of health is a right, public health take precedence over any commercial or business interest.”

As to firecracker report, CESU head Dr, Donna Tubera Panes maintains that the city had no firecracker related injuries or incidents this year. Said incidents have gone down as no business permits have been issued for the selling of firecrackers since 2014, she added.

Oplan Iwas Paputok has also been implemented with community firework displays instead of individual celebrations. The community was also enjoined through information and education campaigns (IEC) to comply with policies prohibiting sale and use of fireworks and firecrackers. Government, private hospitals and the 16 health districts underwent surveillance but there was no report of any incident.

Agencies including the local government unit, Department of Health (DOH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) worked hard for the zero firecracker related incident, it was reported.

Prohibition of sale and use of fireworks and firecrackers date back to 1951 through city ordinances, presidential memorandum, executive orders, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) memorandum and other official issuances, Dr. Panes also presented. – Julie G. Fianza with reports from the Health Services Office