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Foil foreign agenda pushers

I can’t just give you a cherry for free, I need something in return. – I Care A Lot

The gall of these grant-giving, agenda-pushing non-entities.

What they are doing is simply wrong, and there ought to be a law against it.

It is an affront to the country’s sovereignty, a slap on the face of the administration fiercely committed to combatting corruption, and an insult to state regulatory agencies for the implied message that they are incapable of independent, reasoned, and enlightened decision making.

The gumption of these interlopers!

In its most insidious, pernicious form, the practice could even be politically destabilizing.

When democratic institutions are being undermined by extraneous forces, should governments pull back or resort to non-democratic means to thwart the threat?

No, it draws more strength from their democratic base to fortify the ramparts.

And India’s narrative in this regard is instructive.

The world’s biggest and functioning democracy has the magic wand, the Lightsaber, the template for battling this exalted form of bribery.

Congress should pass a law regulating foreign contribution to stop non-government organizations such as Bloomberg Philanthropies from influencing local policies, according to consumer welfare advocacy groups.

The call for a law to regulate NGOs serving as conduits for promoting foreign interest was made by the Nicotine Consumers Union of the Philippines Inc., Philippine E-Cigarette Industry Association, and Vaper AKO, consumer and advocacy groups promoting tobacco-harm reduction and a science-based approach to legislation.

The groups said the Senate and the House of Representatives should consider passing a law similar to India’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.

The Indian FCRA aims “to regulate the acceptance and utilization of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations or companies and to prohibit acceptance and utilization of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to the national interest and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.

NCUP president Anton Israel noted that in India, NGOs are mandated to report and fully explain the use of foreign grants.

Makati City Pabakuna

“It is important that authorities are informed properly about the purpose of foreign grants and how such funds are being used in the country to promote national interest. NGOs are supposed to be partners of the government in nation-building, and not as conduits of foreign organizations,” Israel said.

India banned more than 14,500 NGOs over the past five years, including four groups that received foreign grants from Bloomberg Philanthropies of US billionaire Michael Bloomberg, both reportedly involved in tobacco-control lobbying.

It canceled the FCRA licenses of thousands of NGOs for reportedly acting against India’s national interests, misreporting donations, and lobbying against an established economic activity which raises multiple economic and social concerns.

Under Indian law, an NGO or academic center needs to register with the Ministry of Home Affairs to receive foreign funds and submit an annual income and expenditure statement on foreign funding.

PECIA president Joey Dulay said the Senate and the House should pass a law in the mold of India’s FCRA to protect the national interest.

“A law that regulates foreign contribution will stop the flow of questionable foreign grants, particularly those that are dangled to government agencies and NGOs to influence national policies and regulations,” Dulay said.

Joaquin Gallardo, the spokesman of Vaper AKO, highlighted the case of the Philippines FDA which admitted receiving funds from Bloomberg foundations which are known for opposing tobacco harm reduction policies.

“The Bloomberg foundations have different channels in the Philippines that promote prohibitionist policies that put at a disadvantage Filipino smokers who want to try less harmful smoke-free alternatives or non-combustible nicotine products,” Gallardo said.

He said recipients of funds from Bloomberg and other foreign organizations should fully explain how they use the money to remove the suspicion that they are trying to interfere with government policies.

Recall that during a public consultation on the draft guidelines for heated tobacco products last October 8, a ranking official of the Food and Drug Administration admitted receiving grants from foreign anti-tobacco groups The Union and Bloomberg Initiative which are promoting a prohibitive approach to tobacco-control policies.

It raised questions on foreign interference with local policies and possible conflict of interest on the part of the FDA as they were tasked to craft regulations for e-cigarettes and HTPs.

Gallardo said the acceptance of grants by the FDA from Bloomberg’s foundations was “a serious breach of national interest” because the FDA at that time was su

Publication Source :    People's Journal