President Benigno S. Aquino III presides over the Cabinet Budget Presentation meeting at the Aguinaldo State Dining Room of the Malacañan Palace Monday (July 6). (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III presides over the Cabinet Budget Presentation meeting at the Aguinaldo State Dining Room of the Malacañan Palace Monday (July 6). (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima warned the public against smoking in public places following the conviction of four individuals for violation of an anti-smoking ordinance.

Convicted by the Legazpi Municipal Trial Court in separate rulings are Joseph Monson, Mark Loui Balonzo Baceda, Antonio Bellen Baraquiel Jr., and Angel Araneta. They were ordered to pay a fine of P500 each.

Monson was issued a citation ticket for smoking near a carinderia (local eatery) at the sidewalk of Mabini Street in Legazpi City, while Baceda was caught smoking at the covered walkway of Landco Business Park. Baraquiel, on the other hand, was caught smoking at Lakandula Street, Bonot, while Araneta was caught near the Land Transportation Office in Albay.

“The smoke ban was implemented to safeguard the health of the general public. So, when smokers are penalized, the purpose is not to persecute them but to entice them to be health conscious,” de Lima said in a statement Friday.

The DOJ chief is part of the Inter-Agency Committee-Tobacco (IAC-Tobacco) which has the exclusive power and function to administer and implement the provisions of Republic Act 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003.

The ordinance was issued pursuant to RA 9211, specifically its Section 5 which prohibits smoking in the following places: centers of youth activity; elevators and stairwells; locations in which fire hazards are present, including gas stations; public and private hospitals; public conveyances and public utilities and preparation areas.(MNS)