DepEd iterates ban on sponsorships from tobacco companies and their funded NGOs

November 24, 2017

PASIG CITY, November 24, 2017 – Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones emphasized that DepEd’s cooperation with the private sector as part of its 10-point agenda does not include partnership with tobacco companies and non-government organizations that receive funding from tobacco companies.
“Our partnership with the private sector is aimed at fulfilling DepEd’s vision and agenda. We cannot consider as partners those who undermine our efforts to fulfill our agenda, including the promotion of healthy environments in schools through our tobacco control policies,” Briones said.
Briones made the statement in time for the release of the Tobacco Industry Interference Index Philippine Report 2017 published by HealthJustice Philippines that showed that “there has been no decrease in so-called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities by the tobacco industry or its groups.” The country report presents the status of the implementation in the country of Article 5.3 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which was ratified by the Philippines in 2005. Article 5.3 aims to protect public health policies from tobacco industry interference or the broad array of tactics and strategies utilized by the tobacco industry to influence or interfere with the setting and implementation of tobacco control policies.
“I enjoin the Department to be vigilant to have no dealings with the tobacco industry, so also not to violate existing tobacco control policies,” Briones added.
“Accepting gifts, donations, and sponsorships directly and indirectly from the tobacco industry, including those that may be coursed through DepEd stakeholders, partners, or third parties in the guise of corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects” is among the prohibited acts under DepEd Order No. 48, s. 2016, or the Policy and Guidelines on Comprehensive Tobacco Control and “shall be penalized in administrative proceedings as Grave or Simple Misconduct depending on the gravity of the act and its consequences, under existing laws, rules, and regulations.”
Moreover, the Department Order requires all DepEd offices and schools to “include a provision in all Memoranda of Agreement entered into with donors and partners stating full commitment of all parties concerned to tobacco control implementation and stipulating that said donor or partner does not represent the interests of or receive funding from the tobacco industry.”
Earlier this year, Assistant Commissioner Ariel Ronquillo of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) commended this requirement of DepEd for all its memoranda as “a good safeguard from administrative accountability for DepEd personnel” and “a good practice that other government agencies may want to consider adopting.”
The DepEd Order is anchored on the joint memorandum circular issued by the CSC and the Department of Health in 2010 entitled the Protection of the Bureaucracy Against Tobacco Industry Interference. The JMC is pursuant to WHO FCTC.