FCTC Article 17 recommends countries assist tobacco growers to shift away from tobacco to other viable activities. Last year Parties to the FCTC adopted a report that provides guidance on what governments can do to assist growers to shift away from tobacco. However Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) is leading Southern Philippines away from implementing the FCTC. It has just announced a $50 million investment in Claveria, Misamis Orientalto plant more tobacco.
According to PMFTC the area’s weather is ideal for planting tobacco, compared to Ilocos (Northern Philippines), where one can only plant during the dry season. PMFTC is contracting farmers in the Misamis region to plant tobacco seedlings that it will distribute for free, as well as assigning leaf technicians to help farmers maximize production.
Surprisingly the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) is supporting PMFTC’s plans as it had conducted a survey that showed most farmers in Claveria are willing to shift to tobacco farming to avail of PMFTC’s production subsidy. It is working with PMFTC and the local government units’ target to reach 1,000 metric tons of tobacco output within the year. Shouldn’t the NTA be implementing the FCTC and assisting growers to shift away from tobacco?
The NTA should not be collaborating with PMFTC because in the Sin Tax Reform Act 2012 (RA 10351) SEC. 8. Incremental Revenues from Republic Act No. 8240 – Fifteen percent (15%) of the incremental revenue collected from the excise tax on tobacco products under R. A. No. 8240 shall be allocated and divided among the provinces producing burley and native tobacco in accordance with the volume of tobacco leaf production. The fund shall be exclusively utilized for programs to promote economically viable alternatives for tobacco farmers and workers.
Philippines: Fake charity leads Catholic Church astray
Catholic priests in the Philippines have forgotten their Scriptures and have become enamoured with charitable contributions from the tobacco industry. Mighty Corp. has targeted the Catholic Church for its CSR handouts through the Wong Chu King Foundation which recently sponsored two additional classrooms for the kinder, grades 1 and 2 pupils in an Elementary School in Minanga, Piat, Cagayan [Northern Luzon]. A local Reverend Father was at hand to endorse and bless the occasion. This is just one of many other building projects Mighty Corp. has with the Church. Mighty Corp. is doing this charity for the publicity it gets, as the ceremony was advertised in several major national newspapers.
The Scriptures provide clear guidance to the Church on how charity should be done – the left hand should not know what the right hand is doing. However the Catholic Church has abandoned this teaching in this instance. It appears the Church has an even bigger problem to confront – it is addicted to charitable contributions from Mighty Corp. which has been funding church renovations and refurbishment over several years.
The bulk of smokers in the Philippines are poor, hence the tobacco company makes its profits from addicting the poor. The Church claims to stand with the poor. However, rather than rejecting the blood hand-outs from a corporation that makes its profits from selling a product that kills, the Church has instead been endorsing and blessing Mighty Corp. The Church is also unaware that the government and the rest of the world have taken a clear position to reject tobacco industry related CSR activities. SEATCA has raised the matter with the Church leadership in 2014 and again this year, but has not received a response.