Category Archives: Advocacy

Lung Center of the Philippines: 321 Filipinos Die Every Day Due to Tobacco

Groups urge ‘stronger tobacco control to save lives

“Tobacco control saves lives.” 

This was the message of the state tertiary hospital Lung Center of the Philippines on Tuesday during an art installation of 321 pairs of shoes and slippers in their main lobby to commemorate the 321 Filipinos who die every day due to tobacco-related diseases. 

Lung Center of the Philippines installs 321 pairs of shoes to commemorate 321 Filipino deaths daily due to tobacco.

“We need an ecosystem of policies that will make it easier for Filipinos to quit the deadly habit of smoking,” said Dr. Jessica Catalan-Legarda, Chair for Advocacy of the Lung Center of the Philippines. The art installation is part of the hospital’s World No Tobacco Day activities

“Raising taxes on tobacco products and banning their advertising, promotions, and sponsorships are just some of the policies needed to create a healthier environment for Filipinos,” she added. 

“Quitting smoking is not just a matter of personal responsibility,” said Dr. Glynna Ong-Cabrera, Lung Center of the Philippines’ Smoking Cessation Program Manager and Department of Health (DOH) Quitline Project Director. “Every day, 321 Filipinos die because tobacco companies continue to sell and market their addictive and deadly products,” she said. “Tobacco products are designed to make it difficult for smokers to quit, putting them at risk to develop tobacco-related diseases which may eventually lead to death,” she also said. 

Public interest law group ImagineLaw, co-organizer of the art installation, maintained that “tobacco companies’ business model thrives on addiction and death”. 

“Tobacco companies are neither our friends nor allies,” said Atty. Sophia San Luis, the law group’s executive director. “As we enter into a new administration, we urge our new set of leaders to be vigilant and reject any attempt by the tobacco industry to prevent the implementation or worse, roll back life-saving tobacco control measures,” she said. 

The art installation composed of 321 pairs of footwear is open for viewing until Friday, June 3, 2022.

Booster Shot Done

My daughter and I had our booster shot last December. We are thankful we were able to do our little part to help curb the spread of the virus in the community.

Even if we are vaccinated already, health experts still remind the public to observe the minimum public health standards: frequent hand washing, wearing face masks, practicing social distancing in public or crowded places, and getting yourself vaccinated.

Let’s protect our loved ones and other people the same way we protect ourselves. 🙏

#boosterdose #moderna

Environment and Biodiversity Experts Renew Call for Stronger Measures to Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade

On World Animal Day, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has reiterated its call for the approval of two Senate bills that seek to strengthen Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.

DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau Director Datu Tungko M. Saikol said it is high time to amend the gaps in the law two decades after its implementation.

Badian, Philippines. Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

“We commend the House of Representatives for passing House Bill 9833 revising the Wildlife Act of 2001 on third and final reading and call on our good Senators to pass Senate Bills No. 2078 and 2079 to strengthen our fight against wildlife crimes. Almost 20 years after the Wildlife Act took effect, the threat of extinction of wildlife species in the Philippines is still not far behind, wreaking havoc to our biodiversity that supports our livelihood and economy,” Saikol said on Monday, October 4.

“Illegal wildlife trade, which is the second biggest threat to species survival globally, increases the risks of zoonotic diseases, or the transfer of diseases from animal to humans, leading to outbreaks,” Saikol said. “With the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is imperative to pass a strengthened wildlife conservation and protection law without delay,” he also asserted.

Tarsier. Bohol, Philippines. Photo by Julian Paolo Dayag on Unsplash

The law, once amended, will effectively deter wildlife trafficking not only in the country but also in other global destination points. “As a result, it will prevent if not eliminate the incidence, at least in the Philippines, of another infectious disease such as Covid-19, which originated in animals and caused unprecedented loss of human lives worldwide,” he also said.

SB 2078 and SB 2079 were filed by Senator Cynthia Villar and Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, respectively. Both bills seek the imposition of stronger and more specific penalties. They also seek to strengthen enforcement capacity and the removal of legal loopholes exploited by illegal wildlife traders.

Apo Reef. Photo by Farhan Sharief on Unsplash

From 2010 to 2020, more than 67,500 wildlife specimens worth at least P248M were confiscated from 523 suspected law violators. At least 153 criminal complaints have been filed in court, with 29 cases resolved and 47 criminals convicted.

The Philippines is one of the world’s 17 mega-diverse countries that host two-thirds of the Earth’s biodiversity. Unfortunately, the country has become an important source, transit, and destination point for illegal wildlife trade, now the fourth largest illegal trade worldwide behind illegal drugs, arms, and human trafficking.

The value of illegal wildlife trade in the country is estimated at P50 billion yearly or $1 billion, including the market value of wildlife and its resources, their ecological role and value, damage to habitats, and loss in potential ecotourism revenues.