Despite the uproar coming from various sectors, the one-night reunion concert of the Eraserheads will push through on August 30 as planned. The event will take place at the Bonifacio Global City Open Grounds, however, not at the CCP Open Grounds as previously announced.
But while overzealous fans are rejoicing in anxious anticipation of the momentous occasion, supporters of the law barring tobacco companies from sponsoring major events are protesting the involvement of Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing, Inc. (PMPMI) in the concert.
As previously reported, the company's flagship brand, Marlboro, is being touted as the mastermind behind the grand rock n' roll happening.
In a statement issued by the Department of Health (DOH) last week, Undersecretary Alexander Padilla issued a stern warning against PMPMI: "If we are able to show and prove that this concert is actually sponsored by you, by Philip Morris, then we will truly train our guns on you for clearly violating the law."
DOH cited Republic Act No. 9211, otherwise known as the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, as the reason PMPMI should withdraw from the venture.
RA 9211 prohibits tobacco companies from sponsoring sports, cultural, and artistic events of individuals or team athletes, artists and performers since any sponsorship endeavor would practically entail "advertisement or promotion of any cigarette or tobacco company, tobacco product or tobacco use, name, logo or trademarks and other words, symbols, designs, colors or other depictions commonly associated with or likely to identify with a tobacco company."
Dr. Maricar Limpin, who is the chairperson of the Council on Tobacco or Health and Air Pollution, likewise appealed to the members of the Eraserheads to disassociate themselves from PMPMI, which would consequently halt the reunion concert.
"Considered one of the most influential bands in the country, Eraserheads has become a role model of sorts for our young, I hope they will rise up to the challenge, do more than play music and help young Filipinos reach their potential—which they cannot achieve when they're ill, or worse, dead," reasoned Limpin.
18 AND ABOVE. Last week, PMPMI public affairs and communications manager, Dave Gomez, issued a statement defending the company's participation in the reunion concert. The statement was printed in full by entertainment columnist Ricky Lo in the entertainment section of the Philippine Star last Saturday, August 9.
"In response to numerous inquiries from the public including the media, we confirm that the Eraserheads will be performing in a one-night only event as part of our Marlboro Nation promotions which we have been running for the past two years exclusively for our adult smokers.
"The event is not open to the general public. Access to the event is age-restricted, strictly by invitation only and intended for members of PMPMI's adult smokers' database, trade and business partners, and selected adult guests. Invites to the event will be distributed exclusively through PMPMI's website, www.marlboro.com.ph, which is restricted only to persons 18 years old and above. Invites will be issued free of charge, with a corresponding control number, and will be non-transferable. For admission to the event itself, invitees are required to present the personalized invite containing their name and birth date and a corresponding government-issued ID for verification. The event will be held on August 30 at the Bonifacio Global City open grounds in Taguig City."
Mr. Gomez argued that the company is not violating RA 9211, citing the provisions stated in Section 23 of the said Act:
"Promotions must be directed only to persons at least eighteen (18) years old. No person below eighteen (18) years old or who appear to be below eighteen (18) years old may participate in such promotions. The participants in promotions must be required to provide proof of age."
As for the sponsorship issue raised by some, Mr. Gomez corrected the notion by saying that the company is not acting as event sponsor but rather, as a promoter—two completely different terms as defined by the law.
"RA 9211 allows tobacco promotions with restrictions. On the other hand, tobacco sponsorship is not allowed," noted Gomez.
The statement further added, "Aside from the provisions on promotion that clearly allows us to stage the performance, we are not making a contribution to a third party. We are organizing the event ourselves and the event will not take place without the support given to it by PMPMI.
"The Eraserheads performance is not a form of sponsorship. PMPMI's participation in the event is not as a sponsor, but as a promoter. And this promotional event is open only to persons 18 years old and above. If any person will present or try to present a falsified or fake invite or government ID, PMPMI will not hesitate to criminally prosecute the offender to the full extent of the law."