CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – A law prohibiting vaping must be passed first before authorities could arrest vape users, a legislator here said Friday.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the government, specifically Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, could not just order the police to accost vapers in public without a law banning such.
He based his stand on the criminal law principle, “nullum crimen sine lege,” which means a person cannot be arrested and face criminal punishment except for an act that was criminalized by law before he or she performed the act.
“The House is now deliberating the various bills on vaping and e-cigarettes. Let Congress pass a law on vaping,” he said on a text message Friday.
Pres. Duterte has ordered Tuesday (Nov. 19) the ban on vaping, citing that it is “toxic,” and instructed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest those who violate his order.
Lt. Col. Mardy Hortillosa, PNP regional spokesperson, said Saturday they have not made any arrests yet after receiving the memorandum from the National Headquarters.
The memorandum, issued by the PNP Directorate for Operation last Nov. 20, ordered the enforcement of the vaping ban, hours after Duterte’s order.
“We received a memo from Camp Crame to arrest any person that will violate the Vaping Ordinance in the municipality and city. We are also ordered to coordinate with the vaping establishments for this purpose, for them to be aware of the said directive,” he said.
Hortillosa said they will follow the said directive especially in the area where there is an ordinance penalizing the use of vaping. He added, though, they will also enforce in areas where there is no local law prohibiting the act. He said they will arrest those caught vaping in public, record their name, and then release them.
Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, the PNP officer-in-charge, said the directive was for police officers to arrest all violators, record them on the police blotters, and confiscate the items used in vaping.
Earlier, the Department of Health has called for a ban on vaping saying it can cause lung illness. It noted there are around one million Filipinos who are e-cigarette or vape users. (davaotoday.com)