(PNA photo by Ben Briones)

MANILA – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has echoed the request of the Department of Health (DOH) for a presidential veto of consolidated House Bill No. 9007 and Senate Bill No. 2239 or the Vape Bill, saying it is not a health bill.

In a statement Thursday, FDA officer-in-charge Director General Oscar Gutierrez Jr. said its passage would reverse the "significant progress" made under the previous Duterte administration which includes the issuance of landmark legislation and executive directives like the smoke-free and vape-free policies and the sin tax reforms.

“The FDA calls for the continuity of these initiatives and the consequent strengthening of the Tobacco Control and Prevention Strategy of the Philippine Government, ultimately for the protection of public health and safety,” he said.

The DOH, through the FDA, "bears the constitutional mandate to protect every Filipino’s right to health by establishing effective regulatory systems."

It cited a Supreme Court decision in the case against the Philippine Tobacco Institute Inc. reaffirming the regulatory jurisdiction of the FDA over all health products including tobacco and other related products.

READ: DOH renews call for veto of vape bill

Gutierrez noted that the FDA "has the rightful authority, possessing the expertise, competencies, and manpower to develop standards to regulate and monitor novel tobacco products."

The FDA also disagreed with the intent of the Vape Bill to transfer the regulatory jurisdiction of such products from the agency to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“In expressing this, the FDA does not intend to undermine the DTI, but rather the FDA wishes to respect the delineation made between the jurisdiction of the DOH and the DTI on consumer products in the Republic Act 7394, otherwise known as the Consumer Act of the Philippines, where health products, including hazardous substances, are under the jurisdiction of the DOH,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez also belied claims that vapes are currently banned.

"The FDA has, in fact, regulations in place to legitimize manufacturers, traders, distributors, and retailers of such products," the statement read.

To date, the FDA processes licenses to operate such establishments with a listing available for the public on the FDA verification portal. (PNA)