No money for ‘No Smoking’ info drive in Zambo

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/20 July)—Lack of budget hampers the preparation to conduct education and information drive on the city’s “No Smoking” ordinance.

Ordinance No. 413, which regulates smoking in this city and providing penalties thereof, is set to take effect starting September 27 this year, 90 days after it was enacted and signed into an ordinance.

The conduct of education and information campaign for public awareness is a prerequisite stipulated in the ordinance before its actual implementation.

The budgetary problem came out because there is no provision in the ordinance that appropriate funds for the purpose of conducting education and information campaign before its implementation.

“While it is a must for this law to be implemented here, the problem now is where to get the funds to spend for signages, warning people against smoking in prohibited areas, as well as about the risks smoking cause to both smokers and passive smokers,” Councilor Myra Paz Abubakar said.

Abubakar, who chairs the City Council’s Committees on Health and Sanitation and Family Welfare, is the author of the ordinance.

Abubakar met last Wednesday afternoon with the concerned stakeholders and tackled the preparations for the conduct of education and information campaign concerning the ordinance.

During the meeting, former District II councilor Reinerio Candido suggested for each city councilor to allocate part of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to help finance the education and information campaign.

However, Candido’s suggestion was opposed by some city councilors as they expressed doubt whether that would be allowed by both the Department of Budget and Management and the City Budget Office, citing funding the information drive is not within the prescribed usage of their PDAF.

During the meeting, the representatives of the City Engineer’s Office also stressed that they don’t have funds for the purpose.

Ordinance 413 tasked the City Engineer’s Office with the making and posting of the anti-smoking signage and billboards.

But Abubakar said they have agreed that they will tap the City Health Office to assist them in the information drive since it has funding for the purpose.

The places where smoking is prohibited include churches and places of religious worship, medical and dental clinics, hospitals, schools, government offices, public utility vehicles, and other public places. (MindaNews)