By Hannah Torregoza
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Sunday said Malacañang should clarify whether or not President Rodrigo Duterte was banning the use of vaping products.
Zubiri said this was essential so that the Senate could be guided on whether to regulate or totally prohibit it.
The senator admitted they were getting “mixed signals” from the Palace, thereby affecting the Senate’s deliberation on vaping-related measures.
Zubiri pointed out that in one interview, they heard the President telling consumers of vaping products to vape within their homes.
“Gusto namin malaman, gusto namin makipag-usap kay Presidente kung ano ba talaga ang gusto niya. Kasi kung outright ban ang gusto niya, kailangan meron din tayong batas, (We want to know. We want to speak with the President what he really wants. Because if he wants an outright ban, we need a law),” Zubiri said in an interview over GMA NewsTV.
“Sinabi rin ng Pangulo sa isang interview na mag-vaping na lang sa loob ng kanilang mga bahay (The President also said in an interview that they should vape inside their houses). So we need to know that. If it’s allowed within the premises of the home, ibig sabihin regulation lang siya,” he pointed out.
Zubiri said he had earlier filed a measure regulating the use of vaping products. However, he was not aware that the President would be calling for a ban on vaping later.
Sen. Pia Cayetano, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, had earlier said she will file a bill “highly regulating” electronic cigarettes and still pursue the measure imposing high excise tax on vapes.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian also expressed his plan to file a similar bill regulating vaping products.
Zubiri said that if the President was resolute on banning vapes, then it should be specified in the law.
But if the President will decide to just regulate vaping, Zubiri said there will no longer be any need to remove the provision from their measure to increase tax on vaping products.
“If that is the case, I would also favor na maiwan na lang ‘yung tax provision na ‘yan unless clarified ng Malacañang kung total ban ba talaga ang gusto nila,” he said.
Zubiri said he will call for a caucus on Monday so senators can discuss their position on matter.