Home>Editorial>Opinion>In a bind over agency funding

In a bind over agency funding

After all, we are nothing more or less than what we choose to reveal. — — Frank Underwood, House of Cards

Donations are usually made for benevolent intentions – ennobling the giver and enabling the receiver.

They are traditionally made by rich individuals or the corporate social responsibility arms of cash-churning blue-chip conglomerates for specific causes or advocacies.

And these could range anywhere from addressing hunger and poverty, illiteracy and ignorance, climate crisis and environmental degradation, gender inequality, to infections and epidemics, and recently racial injustice.

Generous purses open wide for specific purposes and well-defined goals because donors want intended results, verifiable outcomes – cleaner air. clearer skies, bluer seas and oceans, thicker and biodiverse forests, etc.

Endowments are driven by pre-determined objectives – that’s why there are funds for wildlife preservation. cleaner fuels, safer energy, etc,

Essentially, the ultimate goals are a better, more livable world. a more tolerant, inclusive society, a more sustainable, viable future.

Generic philanthropic undertakings are either rare or non-existent nowadays.

Big institutional donors do not just write blank checks for general-purpose projects. They always have defined, specific targets in mind.

Surely, truth in endowments, just like in advertising, should not hurt at all.

After all, grants are badges of honor, medals of merit expressed in monetary terms.

There ought to be no embarrassment or shame in acknowledging grants meritoriously awarded and used for noble purposes.

On the other hand, beneficiaries of grants should be grateful and transparent in the receipt and administration of donated funds.

But the charity-cum-advocacy arms of a rich tycoon and a local state regulatory body are apparently not that eager to playing up the roles of donor and beneficiary, respectively, in a hugely indiscreet, unflattering grant, the motive of which is largely deemed highly suspect.

The greater moral burden is on the country’s Food and Drug Agency which largely clammed up after its top officials admitted accepting funds from the private international groups in early October last year,

Anti-tobacco Bloomberg charities face mounting pressure to explain the release of funds to the Philippine Food and Drug Administration which, international public health experts and tobacco harm-reduction advocates said, could be tantamount to influencing the decision of the regulator.

Prof. David Sweanor, University of Ottawa Centre for Health Law and Policy advisory committee chair, said the donation made by Bloomberg groups to the Philippines FDA could sway the regulatory agency’s future decisions and take away its independent judgment when it comes to tobacco control.

The FDA was tasked to prepare the implementing guidelines for the regulation of electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products as provided for by two laws.

“It is essential that regulatory bodies have the trust of the public. Accepting foreign funding from sources with a vested interest in compromising the FDA’s independence can rapidly destroy that trust. In this case, the money ultimately comes from a US entity with an abstinence-only agenda on low-risk alternatives to cigarettes,” Sweanor stressed.

Oher international experts on public health agree with Sweanor.

They include former director of Action on Smoking and Health (UK) Clive Bates; Dr. Roberto Sussman, National University of Mexico’s Institute of Nuclear Sciences senior researcher; Competitive Enterprise Institute consumer policy analyst Michelle Minton; and Dr. Alex Wodak, Sydney, Australia’s St. Vincent’s Hospital Alcohol and Drug Service director.

All these experts expressed apprehension on the issue.

Sweanor made the comment after two Filipino congressmen called for a congressional probe on the Philippines FDA’s acceptance of foreign funding from Bloomberg, which promotes an anti-vaping agenda, in possible breach of the 1987 Constitution and several laws.

In December last year, Representatives Deogracias Victor Savellano and Estrellita Suansing, filed the resolution directing the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the alleged “questionable” receipt of private funding by the FDA and other government agencies and institutions in exchange for the issuance of specific and predefined policies against a legitimate industry under Philippine laws and in complete disregard of the rights and welfare of consumers.

The inquiry was prompted by the admission of FDA officials, during a public hearing on Oct. 8, 2020 for the drafting of the general guidelines on the regulation of electronic nicotine delivery systems (e-cigarettes) and HTPs that agency received funding from The Union and Bloomberg Initiative which are international private groups that adv

Publication Source :    People's Journal