Philippine president imposes public smoking ban

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
Updated 19 May 2017
0

Philippine president imposes public smoking ban

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order that will impose a wide-ranging ban on smoking in public, reinforcing some of the toughest anti-tobacco measures in Asia.
Smoking cigarettes will be banned in many public places, while selling tobacco within 100 meters of schools and other areas where children gather could attract jail terms, according to the order.
Duterte, a firebrand leader most famous for waging a war on drugs in which thousands of people have died, had promised immediately after becoming president last year to introduce the smoking ban as part of a range of measures to impose more order on society.
Other measures included a ban on singing karaoke at night and a 2:00 am curfew on drinking alcohol in public, although these have yet to be implemented.
Duterte rose to prominence as the longtime mayor of the southern city of Davao, which he said he transformed from being crime-ridden into one of the nation's most liveable and safe urban centers.
However, his critics have said Duterte has supplanted the rule of law with his war on drugs, alleging he has triggered a killing spree by police and vigilantes who have been spurred on by his calls for tens of thousands of people to die.
The order had been reported in some media as a blanket ban on smoking in public places.
However the order did not make that clear and health department spokesman Eric Tayag said the exact areas to be banned would be announced later, with the order set to become law in 60 days.
Nevertheless, the order did state that smoking would be banned in all "enclosed" public places, which are defined as having a roof and at least one wall.
This means it will cover all public buildings, such as workplaces and malls. However there will be designated smoking areas allowed inside these buildings.
Smoking will also be banned on all forms of public transport.
People who smoke in banned areas will face a fine of 500 pesos ($10) for a first offence, rising to a maximum of 10,000 pesos ($200) for a third strike, according to the order.
People who sell tobacco products in banned places could be jailed for up to three years, the order said.
The Philippines already has a ban on tobacco advertising, as well as a law that requires graphic images of smoking health hazards to be printed on cigarette packaging.
Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino, also introduced hefty taxes on smoking.
These have helped to see smoking rates fall in the Philippines.
About 23.8 percent of the adult population smoked in 2015, down from 28.3 percent in 2009, according to government surveys.
The World Health Organization praised Duterte's plans, although it cautioned that they still relied on local governments enforcing them and that was not guaranteed.
"WHO welcomes the Philippine initiative on a nationwide ban on smoking," Dr Florante Trinidad, who works on the WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative in the Philippines, said in an e-mail.
Health Justice, a local anti-smoking group, also lauded the initiative but said it did not go far enough, pointing to a provision that allowed for designated smoking areas inside buildings.
"As health advocates, we want the national policy that does not provide for indoor smoking areas," Health Justice managing director Beverly Samson said.
For Duterte, 72, an ex-smoker, the ban is personal.
The leader has said repeatedly he contracted Buerger's disease, an incurable illness affecting arteries and veins which causes great pain, because of his years of smoking, and that was one of the reasons he wanted to introduce the ban.


India’s Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

Updated 22 September 2018
0

India’s Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

  • Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent.
  • Political analysts say that the BJP is “losing in the perception war.”

DELHI: India’s prime minister was under fire over allegations of corruption in a military jet deal with France after comments by former French President François Hollande. Hollande was quoted as saying Narendra Modi’s government had influenced the choice of a local partner.
Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent.
The opposition, led by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, spent the past year alleging that the deal is a scam, in which India is overpaying for jets and the government is allowing a private company — billionaire Indian businessman Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defense — to benefit instead of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
On Friday, Hollande, who cleared the intergovernmental deal when he was in office, was quoted as saying New Delhi had put pressure on Dassault to choose Reliance.
“We had no choice. We took the interlocutor that was given to us,” he was reported as telling the French news service Mediapart, fueling a political storm in India.
The Indian government, however, has insisted all along that it had nothing to do with Dassault’s decision to work with Reliance Defense.
Under Indian defense procurement rules, a foreign firm must invest at least 30 percent of the contract in India to help to build up its manufacturing base and wean off imports.
HAL was the sole contender for being the local partner of Dassault Aviation, but when the deal was sealed in 2015 during Modi’s Paris trip the Reliance Defense procured the contract .
“The PM personally negotiated and changed the Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to ...Anil Ambani,” said Mr. Gandhi in a tweet.
Gandhi further tweeted: “The PM and Anil Ambani jointly carried out a ... SURGICAL STRIKE on the Indian Defense forces. Modi Ji you dishonored the blood of our martyred soldiers. Shame on you. You betrayed India’s soul.”
Gandhi repeated the charge in a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday.
The BJP, however, says that there is no corruption.
“The fact that two sovereign heads of States negotiated a deal means that there is no room for corruption,” said Sudesh Verma, BJP spokesperson.
Talking to Arab News Verma emphasized that “the highest integrity was maintained in the deal. Now the Congress is not talking of corruption but favoritism. Merely by saying that Reliance Defense was favored by us would not cut any ice. These are insinuations and are irresponsible.”
Political analysts say that the BJP is “losing in the perception war.”
“No matter what the indian government says that perception is that the Indian government gave the offset contract to Anil Ambani, a guy who has no history of producing defense equipment,” says Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi based political analyst.
He added: “The halo around Modi has been severely diminished after the recent revelations. This is something which it would be very difficult to live it down now.”