The Philippines’ delegation to the recent Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the World Health Organization’ Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) has come under fire because of its composition and because of at least one of the decisions it took, according to a piece in the Philippine Star.
Writing in the Star, Mary Ann LL. Reyes, asked why a public official, whose office had nothing to do with health, had been the head a Philippine delegation to an international conference that dealt with public health issues?
The CoP, which is the governing body of the FCTC, regularly reviews the implementation of the convention and makes the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation.
The Philippine delegation was headed by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) chair Alicia dela Rosa-Bala.
In her piece, Reyes said that Bala had been educated in social studies and had extensive experience in social work, having been undersecretary of the Social Welfare and Development department, but she questioned whether this equipped her to support an outright ban on electronic cigarettes or vape devices on behalf of the Philippines.
Reyes pointed out that two local electronic cigarette consumer groups had criticized Bala for supporting a proposal presented at CoP7 that would allow an outright ban of electronic cigarettes or vape devices in the Philippines without prior consultation with the local vaping community.
Vapers Philippines spokesperson Mark Erana said that, according to fellow vapers in Europe, Bala, as head of the Philippine delegation, had supported a proposal that would allow an outright ban of electronic cigarettes without consulting the Philippine vaping community.
Reyes said that she was not saying whether the WHO position was correct or incorrect. ‘We just want Bala to do her job, and the taxpayers are paying her to take care of the civil service and civil servants, nothing else,’ she wrote.