MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has always abided by the law, including laws on smoking, Malacanang said Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said he wanted to set the record straight on allegations that Aquino had violated a government circular prohibiting public officials and employees from smoking in government offices and structures, and the international convention against smoking.
“With regard to the question of compliance with the law, the President has always been following the laws of the land,” he said. “He has never violated any law.”
He refuted a statement of Civil Service Assistant Commissioner Ariel Ronquillo that Aquino may have violated a World Health Organization treaty on tobacco control and a ban on smoking in government offices.
Coloma said the context of Ronquillo’s statement was in relation to a government campaign to discourage smoking.
“If we are to analyze it, the President has always been supportive, even of the MMDA’s anti-smoking campaign, and he in fact implemented the sin tax reform on reducing hazard smoking,” he said, referring to the Metro Manila Development Authority.
He never saw Aquino smoke in any meeting or function, Coloma said.
Ronquillo said Aquino may have violated Memorandum Circular 17-2009 prohibiting smoking in government offices.
“The President is not exempted,” he said. “But under our rule, the only way to discipline the President is by filing an impeachment complaint against him.”
However, Ronquillo said the offense must be related with a constitutional provision like betrayal of public trust.
He also said Aquino’s allies control Congress and an impeachment is impossible. – With Sheila Crisostomo