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NTA gets new head

  • (By: Teddy Molina (The Phil. Star) Oct 3, 2010)
    MANILA, Philippines – Former Ilocos Sur Mayors' League president Edgardo Zaragoza has recently assumed office as administrator of the National Tobacco Administration (NTA), the government's regulatory agency that oversees the tobacco industry.

    Certified Public Accountant (CPA), the new administrator studied at the University of the Philippines during the First Quarter Storm (FQS) era,so-called because the period (late '60s to early '70s) was the height of student activism and militancy against the administration of the late President Marcos.

    "I'm an FQS veteran," he said as he introduced himself before NTA officials and employees during last Monday's flag ceremony at the NTA compound in Quezon City.

    Zaragoza has been a long time mayor of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur and yielded the mayorship to his son Zuriel in the elections last May. His wife Charito had also taken over from him as mayor previously.

    He vowed to champion the interests of tobacco farmers as well as advance the welfare of NTA employees.

    The new administrator brings with him a rich experience in management coupled by a first-hand knowledge of tobacco issues and concerns, his supporters said.

    His entry into the agency comes at a time when the industry is rocked by various problems including a rift between NTA and the Department of Health (DOH) over the latter's aggressiveness in pursuing regulations detrimental to the tobacco industry.

    Northern Luzon congressmen are up in arms against the DOH. Coop-Natcco partylist senior Rep. Jose Ping-ay who is from Ilocos Sur took the floor in the House last Wednesday and questioned DOH's motives in issuing AO 2010-0013 imposing graphic health warnings on cigarette packaging, among others which he said "is an arrogation of the legislative power of Congress."

    Zaragoza who was sworn into office by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala is expected to steer the agency and the industry into a robust condition and maintain its position as one of the government's top revenue makers.

    The industry generates an average of P30 billion annually to the national coffers from the excise tax payments of cigarette manufacturers.
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