Schools warned against ‘Brigada Eskwela’ donations from tobacco firms

MANILA-- HealthJustice Philippines on Wednesday warned public school officials against accepting donations or any kind of support from the tobacco industry.

The health group issued the warning as the Department of Education's (DepEd) annual Brigada Eskwela program went underway from May 15 until May 20 in time for classes that begin on June 5.

HealthJustice said that under Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular 29, s. 2016, on the 'Prohibition on Solicitation or Acceptance of Gifts', government and state instrumentalities, including public educational institutions, are prohibited from soliciting and accepting any kind of support or donation from the tobacco industry.

Principals and teachers are reminded to reject all forms of support extended by the tobacco industry, said Mary Ann Fernandez-Mendoza, president and trustee of HealthJustice.

"The DepEd has done a great job implementing tobacco control policies. Just last month, the department started training public school teachers on the policy guidelines on comprehensive tobacco control. We trust that the tobacco industry will not be able to take advantage of them at this time when it is most convenient to receive help."

The circular signed by CSC Chairperson Alicia Bala specifically states that all government officials and employees are advised to avoid soliciting or accepting, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value, or sponsorship for programs and activities from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office as well as from the tobacco industry.

She added that usually, tobacco industry front groups carry out corporate social responsibility programs by getting in touch with civil servants.

This is a form of unnecessary interaction that DepEd and CSC aim to protect our bureaucracy from. Moreover, it will also be ironic for schools to receive help from companies producing the very products that put the lives of the youth at risk, Fernandez-Mendoza added.

HealthJustice, a Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control, is a think tank and advocacy group with legal expertise in tobacco control and health promotion.

Source: Philippines News Agency