Drug agency issues poppy seed alert-A A +A
Saturday, March 5, 2011
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Drug agents are sounding the alert on poppy.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Cordillera reiterated its stern warning to the public against opium poppy which can be grown in the province.
Emely Fama, PDEA–Cordillera Information Officer, said poppy seed packets sent by relatives of farmers or farmers themselves continue to proliferate outside the province.
“It is sent to countries that have not banned the illegal drug,” Fama said adding it is an ongoing problem in the province as it is a flower growing area.
Fama said the poppy can be grown in the province and can withstand frost making it an easy temptation for farmers who want to make easy money.
PDEA reports show that on April 14 last year imported poppy plant seeds contained in two sealed, yellow-colored, glossy paper sachets printed with poppy flower picture and labels in Dutch and English were turned over to PDEA–CAR by a Benguet policeman.
According to him, the poppy seeds were surrendered to his station by a concerned farmer.
And then again in 2007 for the first time in the history of the Cordillera Region, an opium poppy plantation measuring to about 50 square meters was discovered in Paoay, Atok, Benguet. Five hundred fifty of the plants, then valued at half a million pesos, were eradicated from the site on March 28, 2007 by joint drug law enforcers from PDEA–Cordillera and the Benguet Police Provincial Office.
Numerous sachets of opium poppy seeds were also seized from the cultivator. And those paper sachets look very similar in size or shape, color and even in prints or labels to poppy seed sachets turned over by the policeman.
Fama said information drives for farmers are ongoing during eradication operations of the agency as well as barangay meetings.
PDEA is closely working with the Food and Drug Administration in the massive information drive to educate farmers on illegal poppy seeds.
Effects of opium to the user range from euphoria, sense of emotional detachment, absence of pain and stress, altered mood and mental processes, sleepiness, vomiting, loss of appetite, reduced sex drive, itchy skin, increased urination, sweating, inability to concentrate, impaired vision, to death.
Fama said farmers once sold poppy plants not knowing they were illegal.(Ma. Elena Catajan)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 06, 2011.