EDITORIAL: Political will is the key

The nationwide anti-smoking ban is sailing roughly on the seas of local governent units and it looks like it will stay that way unless genuine hard-nosed implementation will be undertaken in that level.

The Department of Health has admitted that implementation of a country-wide smoking ban as provided for by Executive Order 26 that took effect three months ago remains a massive challenge at this point. Under the EO, LGUs are directed to create their own task force to carry out the localization of the law. Executive Order No. 26 took effect last July that prohibited smoking in all enclosed public places and public conveyances, except in designated smoking areas on a nationwide basis.

Davao City and Makati have been successful in the implementation of their respective smoking ordinances and can be the models for other LGUs to follow. It is not easy even for these cities when they started, but as these cities are really hell bent on implementing the law, the ban later on was accepted as part of the societal reforms.

Clearly, it takes the political will of the LGU leadership to implement the law in their respective jurisdictions. The problem is that sometimes, even local government officials are hesitant to implement the law because it affects themselves or businesses and livelihood.

However, the ultimate purpose and wisdom behind the law must prevail over all other interests and the LGUs should follow that to the letter.

Those not complying with the provisions of EO 26 should be meted with appropriate sanctions. As the legal maxim goes, dura lex sed lex (the law may be hard but it is the law).