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Monday, June 24, 2019

Tell it to SunStar: Pro-marijuana solons told: go to Canada

PRO-MARIJUANA Filipino lawmakers should just migrate to Canada instead of pushing for the backdoor legalization of the highly addictive drug in the Philippines. They are free to smoke as much poison as they want in Canada.

There’s nothing we can do if other countries want to destroy themselves and turn their citizens into zombie-like creatures. But here, we will fight tooth and nail any and all initiatives to decriminalize marijuana, whether for supposed medical or recreational purposes.

Canada is set to create a legal market for marijuana after lawmakers there passed a bill allowing the recreational use of the drug known to contain brain-altering chemicals that change perception, mood, consciousness, cognition and behavior. The World Health Organization considers marijuana a toxic and harmful substance that produces a dangerous dependency in users.

Thus I am opposing House Bill (HB) 6517, or the proposed “Act Providing Filipinos Right of Access to Medical Marijuana or Cannabis.” The bill is now subject to floor debate after it was endorsed by the House committee on health for plenary approval.

There’s no point in legalizing medical marijuana because the Dangerous Drugs Board already allows specially licensed Filipino physicians to prescribe, when needed, highly potent pain killers such as morphine and Fentanyl. At present, marijuana is classified as a prohibited substance, just like shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride, cocaine and heroin, under the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Under the law, mere possession of at least 500 grams of marijuana, or at least 10 grams of marijuana resin or resin oil, is punishable by life in prison plus a fine of up to P10 million. Carrying lesser quantities of the drug is punishable by 12 to 20 years in prison plus a fine of up to P500,000.--Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza

Fate of Filipino Seafarers

The cash sent home by overseas Filipino sailors through banks is projected to top the $6-billion mark this year amid mounting deployment. Yesterday was International Day of the Seafarer.

But there’s a potential downside due to the review being conducted by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) on the Philippines’ compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). Failure to pass the EMSA review may adversely affect the deployment of some 80,000 Filipino sailors on European merchant ships, the Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines said.

The EMSA has been questioning the capability of the Philippines’ Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to ensure enforcement of the STCW, which sets minimum qualification standards for ship masters, officers and watch personnel.

We are counting on Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero to manage the risks associated with EMSA’s audit and to build up compliance. Guerrero recently retired as Armed Forces Chief of Staff and assumed his new post as MARINA administrator only on April 30. --ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III


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