‘Risk-proportionate’ regulation; courting re-arrest

September 04, 2019

It’s a grim scenario: The prospect of a re-arrest, that is.

Did he just dig himself a fresh, deeper hole?

And can he extricate himself out of the pit this time?

Would declaring “diplomatic immunity” do the trick and let him walk?  

A credible source has just told  Ped Xing the columnist, who is facing a libel case in Branch 46 of the Manila Regional Trial Court, allegedly did not seek permission from the court to travel abroad as part of President  Duterte's entourage to China.

He is said to hold an unspecified ambassadorial post apart from his job as columnist.

Lawyer pals said this is a blatant violation of Rule 114, Section 23 of the Rules of Court which provides that an accused released on bail may be re-arrested if he attempts to leave the Philippines without permission from the court where the case is pending.

He should have been aware of this rule by now.

Why? Because he is facing, more than 30 similar cases across the country.

Former Justice secretaryVitaliano Aguirre, who filed the case before the Manila court, and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea also recently filed libel charges against Ramon Tulfo.

Aguirre's charges stemmed from columns published both in the print and online editions of a newspaper allegedly portraying the former in a bad light – that is, protecting notorious characters and receiving payoffs from them, etc.

Aguirre also accused the columnist of writing "defamatory" online posts that reiterated the allegations on April 9, April 1,3, and on June 8.

Medialdea, on the other hand, said the columnist had allegedly made defamatory remarks against him regarding alleged improper conduct if not outright illegal acts.

Does he believe he can casually, deliberately ignore or, worse, defy the Rules of Court?

Is he really above everybody else now?

What does the equal application clause say again?

***

The fullness of life is in the hazards of life. – Edith Hamilton

That is, if you survive serious, deleterious hazards.

But the rate of survival is inversely proportional to the risk one takes.

Thus,  an average person values relative pleasure with safety and security over absolute bliss with high risk or even mortal danger. It’s what stock market traders call “risk-aversion”.

Wikipedia defines risk aversion as “the behavior of humans, who, when exposed to uncertainty, attempt to lower that uncertainty. It is the hesitation of a person to agree to a situation with an unknown payoff rather than another situation with a more predictable payoff but possibly lower expected payoff”. .  

If this is a typical actuation of an average or normal person, why should the government be any different?

Where public, health and safety are greatly at stake, health authorities should not only take the moral high ground; they should seize the benign base,  neutral  zone or where there are less blind corners, dangerous curves, and slippery slopes,

In short, even just a short stretch where the mortality rate is nil or nominal.

The government simply cannot afford to be indifferent.

Thus, public health experts and consumer groups from Asia-Pacific called on the Philippine government to impose “risk-proportionate” regulation on safer nicotine products such as electronic cigarettes, heat-not-burn tobacco and Swedish snus to encourage Filipinos to switch from smoking cigarettes.

“We call on the government of the Philippines to allow its citizens to have access to safer alternatives to cigarettes through risk-proportionate regulation of safer nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn tobacco and snus,” the Seoul Declaration which was signed by experts and consumer groups on Aug. 29, 2019 stated.

Hundreds of experts and consumers from 18 countries gathered at GLAD Hotel Yeouido in Seoul, South Korea to attend the 3rd Asia Harm Reduction Forum which was jointly organized by the Korea Harm Reduction Association and Yayasan Pemerhati Kesehatan Publik  Indonesia.

Nancy Sutthoff, the executive coordinator of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Harm Reduction Advocates, said the Seoul Declaration is a consumer declaration calling on the governments of Thailand, India, and the Philippines to address their planned ban or restrictive policies on tobacco harm reduction products such as e-cigarettes, HNB devices, and snus.

“We decided to do a Seoul Declaration to address these issues and get as many signatures as we can from consumers and experts in the region so that these declarations can be hand-delivered to those respective governments,” Sutthoff, also managing director of Paraclete Associates Ltd., said.

‘’In the Philippines, it is not about a ban but about restrictive regulation. In India and Thailand, it is about reversing bans or preventing bans from happening. Right now, in India, within 10 days, they are supposed to ban everything nationwide. In Thailand, there are discussions about lifting the ban for only tourists because they are losing tourism dollars,” she said.

The Seoul Declaration urged the Philippine government to “realize that smoking causes the vast majority of tobacco-related death and diseases”.

“Burning tobacco is the main cause of smoking-related diseases, not nicotine or inhaling vapor. Tobacco use causes at least one million deaths per year in the Philippines, and smoking causes the majority. E-cigarettes provide smokers with an option to get away from smoking and could hasten the demise of the cigarette. We should all want to see that,” the declaration stated.

Experts and consumers said the Philippine government should recognize that vaping is dramatically safer than cigarettes and has helped millions quit smoking.  

“Vaping is not smoking. It uses electronic devices to generate a nicotine-containing vapor without burning tobacco. Public Health England’s annual reviews of all available evidence have consistently concluded that e-cigarettes are around 95-percent less harmful than smoking. Millions of people have switched from cigarettes to these significantly safer products. Governments charged with protecting public health should welcome that, not discourage it,” the declaration said.

The Seoul Declaration also reminded the Philippine government that harm reduction is at the core of Manila’s international treaty obligations. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control defines ‘tobacco control’ as ‘a range of supply, demand, and harm reduction strategies that aim to improve the health of a population’.  

It said that restrictive regulations and bans serve only to protect the cigarette industry.

“Concerns that vaping may appeal to youth or may serve as a ‘gateway’ to smoking are inconsistent with the evidence as e-cigarettes have been gateways out of smoking for millions and have been accompanied by declining youth smoking rates,” it said.

“Instead of regulating these products harsher than the tobacco products that kill people, the government should regulate e-cigarettes to maximize the benefits of low-risk alternatives while minimizing the likelihood they will be used by youth or non-smokers,” the declaration stated.

It said that safer nicotine products should be encouraged, not attacked with the same vehemence as cigarettes or, worse, banned.

“The government of the Philippines should avoid being perceived as promoting the interests of cigarette and pharmaceutical industries, and smokers should not be forced to choose between deadly cigarettes and marginally effective nicotine replacement therapies,” the declaration said.

“Remember that public health is about people. With appropriate regulation, you can help thousands of Filipino vapers and tens of millions of Filipino smokers by simply telling them the truth: although the best option is not using any nicotine-containing products, switching to a regulated vape product is better than continuing to smoke,” it said.

Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy.

Pause and pray, people