No arrests, just verbal warnings
Iris Hazel M. Mascardo, Alicia Ivy L. Chua (The Freeman) - November 22, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Yape was rushed to the Perpetual Succour Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Quijano said the gunmen may have been following the victim for days already because they were able to track his itinerary.

"Posible kay kabalo man siya asa ang biktima ug asa padung. Gisundan siya," Quijano said.

A video footage from the hotel’s security camera shows a man outside the hotel believed to have been waiting for the victim to go out.

Police investigators recovered from the crime scene three empty shells of still unidentified caliber. The pieces of evidence were submitted for examination at the crime laboratory.

Quijano, who said they are checking Yape’s background to determine the motive, does not discount the possibility that the killing was work-related.

Yape used to be the chief of the Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB) of Cebu Provincial Police Office. He was transferred to Calbayog in Samar before being reassigned to Camp Crame. — /FPL

At least 81 e-cigarettes or vapes were confiscated yesterday by Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to ban its usage in public places.

CCPO officer-in-charge Colonel Geovannie Maines said that their instruction to cops does not include arrest but only to give warning to whoever will be seen using vapes in public places.

“Ang instruction sa amin is just to remind these vape users to avoid smoking sa mga public places. And they were warned not to do it again,” he said.

“Confiscation lang, yun lang ang instruction pa naman,” he added.

Maines said that during the confiscation, vape users allegedly voluntarily surrendered their e-cigarettes.

In the absence of a written executive order of the President banning the use of vape in public places, Maines said that the basis of their confiscation is the verbal pronouncement of the President.

“So it is a verbal instruction coming from him, so it is our duty to follow his instruction as our commander-in-chief,” Maines said.

He also said they have yet to receive further instruction on what to do with the confiscated vapes, however, he emphasized that those seized will not be returned to owners.

Maines said they have already coordinated with vape store owners for their information drive to avoid selling the e-cigarettes to minors.

Foul?

But for different groups of vapers, claiming total vape prohibition will only worsen the smoking problem in the country.

Representing 200,000 vapers, the Philippine E-cigarette Industry Association (PECIA), the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA), The Vapers Alliance and the Nicotine Consumers Union of the Philippines (NCUP) asked President Duterte to just regulate and not ban use of e-cigarette.

Clarisse Virgino, of CAPHRA said banning use of vape will only encourage many smokers to just go back to using cigarette.

“As an anti-smoker, it is as if the President is encouraging vapers to go back to smoking which is ironic. The scientific evidence that e-cigarettes are 95-percent less harmful was ignored/disregarded,” Virginio said in a statement.

“A ban on vaping will only worsen the smoking situation in the Philippines,” she added.

For its part, PECIA said regulation is the best way to address concerns on e-cigarettes.

"Although not risk-free, e-cigarettes are still much better alternatives to cigarettes. The planned executive order of the President should regulate the manufacture, sale and use of e-cigarettes, ” the group said in a statement.

PECIA maintained that e-cigarettes are meant for adult smokers who want to switch to less harmful alternative products and should not be used by minors and non-smokers.

Citing results of a study, PECIA said that use of e-cigarettes may help between 50,000 and 70,000 smokers in England quit every year.

In the Philippines, about 1 million Filipinos use e-cigarettes.

Cebu City Action

In Cebu City, Mayor Edgardo Labella has urged the City Council to come up with an ordinance to strengthen the directive of President Duterte who ordered the ban on e-cigarettes.

“I am urging the city council to come up also with an ordinance penalizing it (e-cigarettes),” he said.

Labella shared the same sentiment with the president on banning e-cigarettes for health reasons.

“To make it enforceable within our territorial jurisdiction, I already talked to the chairman of the Committee on Laws, (Councilor) Raymond Garcia, to come up with an ordinance to strengthen the directive of the president,” he said.

The ordinance will cover the banning on the use of e-cigarettes in public areas. Whether it will also apprehend suppliers is a matter to be discussed by the council.

Labella said he requested that the ordinance be comprehensive.

Defense

Amid conflicting stances, the House of Representatives will proceed with its deliberations on pending bills seeking regulation on e-cigarettes and vapes despite President Duterte's order banning the tobacco alternative.

It was learned that the House committee on trade and industry is set to tackle the proposed measure, which has been pending since the previous 17th Congress, in hearings on Dec. 2 and 10.

Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon and Surigao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Robert Ace Barbers both said that there is a need for legislation to make any regulation or control on electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) products permanent and effective.

"I think the proposed legislation to regulate ENDS should still proceed and the President's determination and firm stand against vapes should be taken as a signal for the legislature to take immediate and urgent action," Biazon said.

Barbers agreed and explained that "there is still a need to pass a law soon if the government will adopt a ban on vapes that would cite policy and penal provisions."

Meanwhile, the officer-in-charge of the Philippine National Police (PNP) has defended his order on warrantless arrests against individuals caught vaping in public despite no clear basis, saying this is just to “implement the directive of the president”.

PNP OIC Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, also a lawyer, advised vape users not to challenge authorities as it is set to implement arrests against violators of the President’s vape ban.

“Ang suggestion ko nga wag niyo na kaming i-challenge. Very simple lang naman huwag na tayo gumamit ng vape. If you want to use vape, use it in private spaces, not in public spaces,” he said in a briefing.

Gamboa said arrests are valid even if there would not be charges filed against the violator because this just follows the directive of the president.

He noted that under the police powers of the state, authorities can implement the arrest, which he said does not fall under the category of punishment for a violation.

“It's not even a detention. We are just exercising police power of protecting public interest which is public health,” he said in a briefing.

DOH

The Department of Health (DOH) also yesterday disputed allegations that the ban on use of e-cigarette could lead to worsening of smoking problem in the country.

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said that contrary to the claim of groups of vapers, e-cigarette has never been recognized as an effective smoking cessation method.

"As a smoking cessation aid, it (vape) is really not recognized, not registered or regulated," Domingo said in an interview.

"There is no country or any regulatory agency that has approved vape as a smoking cessation aid because there is no convincing evidence to show that it helps to stop smoking," Domingo added.

Domingo said the solution for smokers to quit smoking is not another product that will bring about other types of diseases. Philippine Star News Service, JMD (FREEMAN)

PHILIPPINE E-CIGARETTE INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION
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