The Sin Tax Coalition stands firmly with Senator Pia Cayetano in calling out the controversial members of the Philippine delegation at the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) 10th Conference of the Parties (COP10) for their blatant disregard for public health and pandering to the tobacco industry.

After the COP10 last February 5-10, 2024, the Philippine delegation received its fifth Dirty Ashtray Award “for its brazen use of tobacco industry tactics to dispute and delay throughout COP10.” As Senator Cayetano pointed out in a February 14 Senate privilege speech, the Global Alliance for Tobacco Control gives the Dirty Ashtray Award to “companies and governments seen as peddlers of tobacco industry interests.” 

It is a huge irony that the Philippines, which the international community has admired for being a global model in advancing tobacco taxation (a pillar of the FCTC’s strategy) and reducing smoking prevalence, proposed compromise options which brought about delays in strengthening the Framework Convention.

On Monday, February 19, 2024, SAGIP Party-list Representative and one of the Philippine delegates to COP10, Rodante Marcoleta, delivered a privilege speech in response to Senator Cayetano, which only exposed himself as pro-tobacco. He said: “Para sa akin, mamatamisin ko na magkaroon tayo ng isang libong Dirty Ashtrays kaysa magkaroon po tayo ng isang kabaong na doon ilalagay ang kabuuan ng tobacco industry.” 

It is also repugnant that Rep. Marcoleta noted that in regard to tobacco, “balanced policy is regulation, not control.” We remind Rep. Marcoleta that the conference he attended was one of public health and tobacco control, and not one of the tobacco industry. If his takeaway from attending a conference on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was that tobacco should not be controlled, he must have not been representing public health at all. His words only confirm that his presence at COP10 was merely acting as a spokesman of the tobacco industry. 

We laud Senator Pia Cayetano, a  staunch tobacco control champion, for consistently standing firm in protecting the youth and disadvantaged Filipinos from the harmful effects of tobacco. We condemn the members of the Philippine delegation like Rep. Marcoleta, for their shameful actions at the COP10. We should have been the toast of the world for our dramatic gains in tobacco taxation and reduction of smoking prevalence, but instead, members of the Philippine delegation chose to besmirch our reputation and drag us down.