A GIANT cigarette company attempted to block the passage of the Smoke Free Ordinance of Negros Oriental, said Governor Jose Baldado.

In his message during the culmination program of the World No Tobacco Month on Monday afternoon, Baldado said a lady who claimed to be one of the company's legal councils invited him for a meeting in Manila.

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He, however, refused to name the lady lawyer who told him to bring along the author of the anti-smoking ordinance.

In an exclusive follow-up interview with the governor Tuesday afternoon, he said the lawyer wanted to discuss about some provisions of the ordinance allegedly not fitting to National Law.

"I'm not so sure if it was Philip Morris but Vice Governor Ma. Antonia Escaño-Villegas told me that it was Philip Morris," he said, adding that he politely declined the invitation.

Baldado assumed as governor following the death of late Governor Emilio Macias II.

"I told her to put it in writing so that we can study your proposal and discuss it during the public hearing," he said.

He also invited the lawyer to attend the public hearing but the lawyer failed to attend.

He admitted that the lawyer called him up again when he was in Manila last week but he again declined because he was about to board the airplane bound for Dumaguete City that time.

Baldado's purpose in Manila is to get the ambulance donated by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) for the province.

He added that the lawyer asked him not to sign the ordinance for more time to study.

To avoid discussion, he said, he agreed to the suggestion but he already decided to sign the ordinance Monday afternoon.

The governor said that he decided to sign the ordinance in front of the public to show that he firmly stood for the better of the Oriental Negrenses.

He believed that to stop cigarettes smoking is for everybody's good health. (Victor L. Camion)