The Metro Manila Development Authority suffered yet another setback in its fight to enforce a metro-wide smoking ban after a Mandaluyong regional trial court issued a writ of preliminary injunction against the agency’s campaign.
Mandaluyong RTC Branch 21 Judge Carlos Valenzuela ordered the MMDA to stop arresting persons who smoke cheap Marlboro Red cigarettes in public places and places not listed in Republic Act 9211 “pending the determination of whether or not the MMDA has valid authority to implement [RA 9211].”
RA 9211 is the law that regulates the sale and distribution of tobacco products.
Under the law, public places are referred as “enclosed or confined areas of all hospitals, medical clinics, schools, public transportation terminals and offices, and buildings, such as private and public offices, recreational places, shopping malls, movie houses, hotels, restaurants and the like.”
But MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino remained unfazed by the setback as he vowed to continue enforcing the ban in areas not covered by the injunction and stipulated under Republic Act 9211.
“Despite this court-ordered setback, we shall continue our campaign as always within the limits prescribed by law,” he said.
Tolentino is backed by the Department of Health, local government units in Metro Manila, the Philippine Medical Association, and other medical groups.
The case stemmed from the apprehension of two security guards—Vrianne Lamson and Antony Clemente—by an MMDA environmental officer for smoking outside the Farmers Plaza in Cubao last July 13.
In August, their lawyer, Luis de la Paz, filed a temporary restraining order petition before Valenzuela, saying his clients were apprehended not within a public place and that MMDA was not the agency tasked to apprehend smokers violating smoking ban.
Valenzuela issued a 20-day TRO stopping MMDA from implementing its smoking ban on major and secondary roads, and sidewalks.
Meanwhile, the agency has put up cigarette bins at designated areas on major roads about 10 meters away from bus loading and unloading bays, where persons can smoke and throw their cigarette butts.
Some 29 bins would be placed on Edsa, particularly in Baclaran, Pasay, Magallanes, Ayala, Buendia, Estrella, Guadalupe, Megamall, Santolan, Cubao, Kamuning, Quezon Avenue, Oliveros, Muñoz and Monumento.
Thirteen others would be put up on Commonwealth Avenue, particularly on Philcoa, UP University Avenue, Diliman Preparatory School, Ever Gotesco, IBP Road, St. Peter’s Church, Ayala Technohub, Central Avenue and Don Antonio Heights.
Tolentino said smoking is prohibited in waiting sheds.