More anti-smoking violators nabbed in Baguio


BAGUIO CITY — The city government of Baguio had arrested more people violating the city’s anti-smoking ordinance.

In its latest report to Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, the Public Order and Safety Division (POSD) of the city government said it had arrested 317 violators in February and 206 in the first two weeks of March alone.

The number of arrests was a big leap from the 52 arrests made in January this year and the 129 from the months of August to December last year, bringing to 704 the total number of apprehensions from August 2017 to March 15 this year.

“This time, the POSD teams were allowed to issue citation tickets and this somehow bolstered their confidence in apprehending the violators,” POSD project monitoring assistant Joel Belinan said.

The POSD teams, composed of 58 personnel, were deputized by Domogan to implement the Smoke-Free Baguio ordinance last year after undergoing the necessary training.

Recently, 36 more POSD personnel completed the training to augment the force.

The training also included 184 barangay officials, village guards (tanods) and purok leaders from the city’s 128 barangays.

The non-POSD trainees will be later deputized to implement the ordinance in their respective communities. They will also be issued identification cards as enforcers.

The POSD reported that a total of 421 violators paid the penalty ranging from P1,000 to P5,000, with options to render community service, while 174 failed to pay, 93 were turned over to the city police, and 15 rendered community service.

The report said those who had failed to pay the penalty were asked to leave their valid IDs, which were made as the basis of the list of violators forwarded to the City Legal Office.

Those who were turned over to the police were the violators who could not provide any ID and refused to cooperate.

The POSD elements operate in the city’s central business district, including the city market, Mines View, Wright Park, Botanical Garden, Baguio General Hospital, and Upper Session Road.

Their role as smoke-free enforcers is on top of the POSD’s task of implementing laws on anti-peddling, littering, jaywalking, among others.

Ordinance No. 34-2017, which was approved in April last year, prohibits the use, sale, distribution, and advertisement of cigarettes, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), and other tobacco products in public utility vehicles, government-owned vehicles (mobile and stationary), accommodation and entertainment establishments, public buildings, public places, and enclosed public places or any enclosed area outside one’s private residence or private place of work, except in duly designated smoking areas.

Dr. Donnabel Tubera of the City Health Office had repeatedly warned residents and urged tourists to comply with the city’s anti-smoking ordinance, or face the penalties as stipulated in the law.

She said the anti-smoking task force also conducts nightly inspections in different establishments to assure that there would be no violators.

Based on the ordinance, an establishment can assign a smoking area, but must not be less than 10 meters away from a structure or building with appropriate signage and without a roof.