Ray Reyes

DTI aked to rethink marketing PH as HTP manufacturing hub

August 8, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 560 views

A LAWMAKER has expressed concern over the pronouncements of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) marketing the Philippines as a manufacturing hub for e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs).

“It is deeply concerning that our economic managers are seemingly disregarding the potential health risks of using e-cigarettes and HTPs in favor of economic gain,” said Anakalusugan Rep. Ray T. Reyes.

“While these products are usually branded as a safer alternative to cigarettes, they still pose many health risks,” he added.

The lawmaker made the statement after an undersecretary of DTI touted the Philippines’ potential to be a manufacturing hub for e-cigarettes and HTPs during the International Tobacco Agriculture Summit.

Reyes said these pronouncements from DTI are contrary to the intent of Republic Act 11900 (Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act) which aims to protect Filipinos from potential hazards of these products.

“Our economic managers should be careful with their statements because these can be misconstrued as an endorsement of a product that they are mandated to regulate,” he said.

Under the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act, DTI is mandated to regulate vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products.

He said the DTI should instead focus on preventing and restricting access to HTPs and vapes, especially among young people.

“We understand the need to jumpstart our economy but it is also important that we do not disregard the health of our kababayans,” Reyes added.

AGRI Rep. Wilbert T. Lee reiterated his call for the government to focus on interventions to curb food inflation, after a survey revealed more Filipinos families had experienced involuntary hunger in the past three months.

“Hindi po nakapagtataka na mas maraming mga kababayan natin ang nagugutom dahil patuloy pa rin ang pagtaas ng presyo ng pagkain,” Lee said.

“Patuloy mang bumababa ang inflation rate natin, hindi ito mararamdaman ng ordinaryong mamamayan hangga’t di natin gagawing mas abot-kaya ang presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin lalong-lalo na sa pagkain at inumin, partikular na sa bigas at gulay,” he stressed.

The latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed 10.4 percent of Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger, up from the previous 9.8 percent in March. SWS defines involuntary hunger as being hungry and not having anything to eat.

SWS said the 10.4 percent hunger rate in June 2023 was the sum of 2.1 percent who experienced severe hunger and 8.3 percent who experienced moderate hunger.

Lee had earlier said the government must aggressively address factors contributing to food inflation or it will be unable to hit its 2.9 percent inflation target in 2024.

The Bicolano lawmaker noted that food and non-alcoholic beverages were the biggest contributors to the 5.4 percent inflation rate in June.

“Food and non-alcoholic beverages contributed almost half, or 47.3 percent, to inflation. While the downward trend of overall inflation was primarily influenced by the slower increases in food and non-alcoholic beverages at 6.7 percent in June 2023, down from 7.4 percent in the previous month, we should be concerned that in terms of food groups, the inflation rates of rice and vegetables continue to rise,” he said.

Lee urged the government to immediately add more Kadiwa centers to make affordable food accessible to more consumers.

However, he stressed that policy changes need to be institutionalized to increase agricultural productivity and lower rice and vegetable prices.

“Kailangan natin ng mga permanenteng solusyon para mapababa ang presyo ng pagkain katulad ng karagdagang post-harvest facilities at mga batas na magpapadali at magpapabilis sa transportasyon ng mga produktong agrikultural mula sakahan hanggang hapag-kainan. Kapag busog ang ating mga tiyan at walang nagugutom, may lakas tayong harapin hindi lang ang mga personal kundi pati pambansang hamon, at magiging Winner Tayo Lahat,” he said.