By Ben Rosario
DAVAO CITY – Manila-based reporters walked out of an impromptu press conference in utter disgust over administration senatorial candidate Jinggoy Estrada’s failure to heed the smoking ban here.
Estrada, who is seeking a political comeback after being released from detention, joined senatorial bets of Hugpong ng Pagbabago for the miting de avance at the San Pedro Square here on Wednesday night.
Witnesses said Estrada, together with his staff, entered the airconditioned media holding area, which was just beside the tent reserved for senators and lit a cigarette.
Estrada had just joined fellow administration bets in the grand rally hosted by HNP chairperson and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
Before smoking, he was heard asking a lady journalist if it was okay for him to smoke, to which she responded in the affirmative.
As Estrada puffed his cigarette, the reporter also lit up a stick but immediately threw it when fellow media members asked her to stop.
However, Estrada continued to smoke even as more journalists trooped inside the tent.
“Alam ko bawal sa labas eh,” the senatorial bet was heard saying when a reporter asked why he was smoking inside the room.
Inside the media tent were Manila-based reporters, who were rushing to write their stories. Some of them were waiting for a chance to interview Estrada.
However, feeling uncomfortable at the sight of a smoker, the journalists decided to leave when it became clear that Estrada was not heeding the smoking ban.
Under a city ordinance here, smoking in public areas is illegal. Violators face a fine ranging from P5,000 to P10,000.
“He should know better. It’s an airconditioned holding area, and smoking is banned here,” said a senior member of the Malacanang media staff.
The Office of the President had set up several tents at the San Pedro Square here and designated one as the site for impromptu press conferences and reporters assigned to cover the miting de avance of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago.