MANILA - President Aquino could be violating a circular of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) even if he smokes only in the comfort of his bedroom in Malacanang.
In a press briefing during the launch of the Tobacco Industry Interference Index, CSC Assistant Commissioner Ariel Ronquillo said the President should be advised to stop smoking, noting that Memorandum Circular 17-2009 prohibits smoking in “areas anywhere in or on government premises, buildings and grounds, except for open spaces designated as smoking area.”
He said this means the President could not smoke at the presidential residence in Bahay Pangarap, which is government-owned.
“It’s not a private property. It’s a place that was given to him as an official residence given his position as president of the Philippines,” said Ronquillo.
He said “willful violation of an existing law” could be a ground for impeachment, even as he clarified that the President could not be impeached for merely smoking.
“You have to relate smoking to any of the grounds of impeachment under the Constitution. There are grounds for impeachment like betrayal of public trust etc... so you have to relate to that,” he said.
“In the history of this country, we have not seen a president who was impeached because of smoking or allowing tobacco industry interference,” he added.
Ronquillo said the smoking ban is also imposed on government offices providing “health, education, and/or social welfare and development services such as hospitals, health centers, schools and universities, colleges, among others.”
“Smoking itself in government offices is prohibited and there were instances when the President is seen doing that,” he said.
“When the President himself smokes, (he is) practically telling Filipinos (there is) nothing wrong with it. Somehow there is a promotion (of smoking). That’s why the President… has to be told to stop,” he added.
Interaction with the tobacco industry
Ronquillo said there is also rampant violation of Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 2010-01 of the CSC and Department of Health that prohibits government officials, both elected and appointed and employees from “interacting” with the tobacco industry.
“We came up with the JMC to effectively implement Article 5 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to protect the industry from tobacco industry interference... The JMC has the effect of a law legislated by our Congress,” he said.