MMDA environmental protection officers patrol the streets in Cubao to impose the smoking ban in public places. Photo by Rem Zamora for ABS-CBN
MMDA begins strict implementation of tobacco law
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - This time, it's for real.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is now strictly implementing the smoking ban after the one month so-called dry run from June 1 to 30 where smokers were only given a warning.
But starting today (July 1), smokers in public places were caught off-guard as the MMDA started apprehending them for violation of Republic Act 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003.
Environmental protection officers of the MMDA are now deployed around Metro Manila to catch violators of the smoking ban. Some of them even walked around carrying big signs that say "no smoking."
Offenders were given environmental violation receipts.
The smokers reasoned out they either don't know about the ban or forgot about it.
Violators will be charged with a fine of 500 to 1000 pesos or 8 hours community service for the first offense, 1,000 to 5,000 pesos or 16 hours community service for the 2nd offense, and 10,000 pesos or 32 hours of community service for the third offense.
But the MMDA admits there are many loopholes as the ban relies largely on an honesty system.
Subpoeanas will be sent to the address of the offenders, but if the offender gives an old address or pretends not to have on him/her an ID showing a current address, the offender will not receive a subpoena.
Also, there are only 80 enforcers working in two shifts from 6 a.m.- 2 p.m., and 1 p.m. - 8 p.m. Anyone smoking in public areas outside of these hours are sure to get away with violating the ban.