EVERY now and then, we’re reminded of Ordinance No. 34-2017 (aka the Smoke-Free Ordinance of Baguio City) which was passed by the city council in April 2017.
The ordinance prohibits the use, sale, distribution, and advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products in all public places, and the sale of tobacco products within 100 meters from schools.
The city government continues to communicate its thrust toward achieving its goal of a smoke-free Baguio City, as exemplified in its repeated pronouncements of the anti-smoking ban and the penalties for violators.
While I am in full support of the ordinance, I’m keen to know what data the city government has or is collecting to show whether the ordinance is at work across the city.
Smokers in the neighborhood
It’s easy enough to announce that the city is serious about and committed to putting an end to smoking in public spaces, but what’s happening at the barangay level?
Who’s spot-checking or inspecting barangays to see if the ordinance is really being implemented? Who’s accountable for ensuring the barangay captains and kagawads are doing their jobs?
In my neighborhood, smokers abound.
You need only enter the street leading to our cul de sac and you’ll be greeted by clouds of smoke from the tambays that frequent a certain store in our barangay. And smoking is not a one-time incident; in fact, it’s an everyday thing – something barangay officials can never miss.
Besides, there was that one time when my family went out for a walk to a neighborhood restaurant and we passed by an old man smoking incessantly with a barangay kagawad present.
A sad same-old, same-old story
Sadly, the non-implementation of the anti-smoking ordinance in our place (and perhaps in other barangays) also reflects the way the city government is unable to ascertain the implementation of various other ordinances and laws at the barangay level or, at least, in real life in general.
These include the King of the Road ordinance (Ordinance 07) which is intermittently being implemented, the Responsible Dog Ownership Ordinance and Republic Act (RA) 8485, or the Animal Welfare Act of 1998.
But what’s causing this seeming lack of concern for what barangay officials are doing? Where is the LGU’s accountability? What is the role of barangay officials in all this? Is it enough to just make press releases and hold events that purport to show that the city government is serious about ordinances and laws?
Still, I sometimes cut short my own musings when I see a police car or government vehicle belching gray smoke.
We all need to sweep our own yards first, right?
Must we clean up the entire neighborhood ourselves, only to be told off by those in government?