Among all the regional offices of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in the country, DA 11 is the first to form an Anti-Smoking Task Force (ASTF) among its employees aiming to bag the Red Orchid Award as well as to strengthen its support on the campaign against smoking.

Red Orchid Award is given to a national agency that practices a heightened Anti-Smoking campaign in their offices.

Responding to the call of the Department of Health (DOH) and Civil Service Commission (CSC) to create an ASTF, DA 11 vowed to support all its activity that pushes healthy lifestyle.

According to ASTF focal person Roy Jose Pascua, employees caught smoking within 100 meters from the DA establishment will be suspended at least one to six months and if the employee committed the violation for the second time, he or she will be dismissed from the service.

“This is one way of showing that we are serious in imposing sanctions for the violators,” Pascua said.

The members of the newly created ASTF are mandated to regulate in the implementation of the program in the respective assigned workplaces, to monitor and appraise employees not to smoke within and outside the office perimeters and post visible signages at strategic office areas.

“This would not only limit within the DA premises since we have an existing city ordinance on smoking. ASTF was put up to ensure that DA 11 is a smoke free establishment and ensure that our employees comply with this thrust,” Pascua said.

During the Monday’s convocation of the Agriculture Department, the ASTF had their oath taking which is conducted by DA 11 Regional Director Remelyn R. Recoter.  

Members of the ASTF were; Focal person Roy Jose Pascua and alternate Focal person Eleonor A. Ingalla, Percy Basil Prosianos and Maria Seberias from Regulatory Division, Linda Banagua from Livestock Division, Mario Simtim and Marilou Pelaez from Plant Quarantine Service, Rodrigo Yulo and Walter Alquino from Veterinary Quarantine Service, Lolita Almendras from Research Diviison, Armie Corcuera from Crop Protection Center, Deogracias Alfanta from Experiment Station and Norberto Pantig from Breeding Station.

Pascua also explained about MPOWER (Monitor, Protect, Offer help, Warn, Enforce and Raise Taxes) policy which is intended to assist in the country-level implementation of effective interventions to reduce the demand for tobacco, as ratified by the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Meanwhile, Director Recoter said that the Red Orchid Award would only be the second priority since the main purpose of the initiative is to keep the employees safe from the danger of smoking.

“The most important thing for this thrust is the employees’ health and a safe workplace,” Recoter stressed.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Office showed that more than one-third (37 percent) of adults who worked indoors or outdoors with an enclosed area at their workplace were exposed to tobacco smoke.

About 23 percent of Filipino adults are daily tobacco smokers: 38 percent for males and 7 percent for females.

Almost half (48 percent or 14.6 million) of adult males and 9 percent (2.8 million) of adult females are current smokers. (Aggie Media Service)


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