Arrest order for adamant smoking violators

BAGUIO CITY – The adamant behavior of certain construction workers erecting a school building at Sto. Tomas National High School prompted Mayor Mauricio Domogan last Aug. 31 to order the Baguio City Police Office and the Public Order and Safety Division to arrest those violating the Smoke-Free Baguio City Ordinance in the premises.

In a memorandum to BCPO City Director P/SSupt. Ramil Saculles and POSD Security Officer II Bromeo Lumiib, the mayor said apprehension is in order after dialogues between the construction company and the barangay and school officials failed to resolve the issue due to the indifference and stubbornness of those concerned.

Smoke-Free Baguio Task Force member and Deputized Enforcer Joel Belinan said BCPO and POSD operatives proceeded to the site upon the mayor's order but caught no one in the act of smoking.

"Since we found it impractical to linger and wait for any violator considering that the place is far from our stations and the operatives have other duties, we just issued a warning that anybody who will violate the ordinance and will be identified by anyone from the school will be apprehended immediately," he said.

School authorities were also advised to immediately report any person who will smoke inside the school premises.

The POSD report said School Principal Rosanna Dizon complained of the rampant smoking within the compound by the workers constructing the four-story laboratory building which she began last January causing discomfort and health risks to students and personnel.

The principal on several occasions called the attention of the project engineers but no remedy was undertaken.

The situation worsened in July resulting to the conduct of the first dialogue but no solution was reached prompting the parents, students, teachers and non-teaching personnel to come up with a petition asking the workers to transfer their quarters situated near the classrooms to somewhere far.

Last Aug 22, the problem reached the task force and the POSD enforcement section proceeded to the area last Aug. 28 and inspected the workers' quarters.

In their report, Belinan said they discovered numerous cigarette butts scattered with the place reeking of cigar which the POSD men said proved that rampant smoking indeed happens in the site.

He said they met with the project engineer, school and barangay officials where they reiterated the suggestion to move their quarters but the engineer declined saying it will entail more cost.

When pressed for a solution, the engineer suggested for the principal to forward their complaint to the Dept. of Public Works and Highways and that the construction company "would use the same to request for the suspension of the project."

"With the unexpected remark of the engineer, the meeting was concluded to the dismay of the barangay and school officials," the report said as the POSD suggested that the mayor conduct another dialogue to finally resolve the problem.

As of press time, the POSD has yet to receive a report of violation from the school. – Aileen P. Refuerzo

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