No to marijuana
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - March 19, 2019 - 12:00am

I’m pleased that President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed opposition to the legalization of marijuana. He made the announcement during the PDP-Laban campaign rally in Negros Occidental where he said he would not allow the cultivation of the plant in the country, and that legalizing cannabis (the other term for marijuana) for medical use would be used by drug syndicates as an excuse to cultivate the plant as source for illegal drugs. This was a turn around from his previous announcement that he would support the legalization of the drug. He said, “You must remember that here on, cocaine, and the derivatives are products of the opium poppy plant. . . Considering marijuana as a medicinal drug is equivalent to condoning wrongdoings.”

Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza, the House senior minority leader, applauded the President’s decision. The former three-term mayor of Manila said, “Now that the President has spoken, we reckon that nobody will be foolish enough to introduce a similar measure in the next Congress.” 

 Atienza himself earlier warned that a number of unnamed politicians are raring to profit from medical marijuana by running dispensaries.

“All the purported therapeutic values of marijuana are merely anecdotal. Puro kwento-kwento lang. They have not been scientifically proven,” Atienza said.

“What has been proven by science is that marijuana is a dangerous substance, mainly because it is highly addictive and can cause powerful hallucinations, including loss of sense of personal identity, among other short- and long-term side-effects,” Atienza said.

The Philippine Medical Association, the professional organization of Filipino physicians, is also opposed to legalizing medical marijuana, saying “it is contrary to the policy of the State to safeguard the well-being of its citizenry.”

Hence to my mind, it makes sense to control or stop another possible way or reason for drug producers and traffickers to develop a source for illegal drugs supply in the country.  

* * *

I interviewed Mayor Oscar Moreno many years ago and was impressed by his capability and sincerity as chief executive of Cagayan de Oro City. Two weeks ago my husband and I paid him a visit in his office at a building filled to the rafters by people with all sorts of concerns that they thought only the mayor could solve. Since we had an appointment, we just waited for a while; it was a good thing we had breakfast earlier with former Vice-Mayor Tony Soriano (a Philippine Red Cross co-governor of my husband) in a plush hotel-restaurant along with Phividec administrator Franklin Quijano and two businessmen. 

Oscar is running for a third term as mayor of the city with the reputation and prestige as the country’s “2nd Most Competitive City in 2014; named by UN Habitat as the “Emerging City of Tomorrow”; declared grand winner of the United States Agency for International Development’s maiden competition of the “Liveable Cities Design Challenge 2014,” and topped the 2014 “e-readiness Survey Award” among local government units in the country.

Under Mayor Moreno’s leadership, the city received several awards: twice won the Galing Pook Award, the No. 1 Most Resilient City award given by the Department of Trade and Industry, and a host of others, including reducing poverty among constituents, construction of over 500 classrooms in public elementary and high schools all over the city, transforming a dilapidated city hospital, converting more than half of the city’s 54 barangay health centers into maternity care providers, offering free normal birth delivery services to pregnant women, and expanding settlement and housing areas.

Born in Balingasag, Mis. Or. to a rural doctor and a music supervisor who was elected city councilor in 1987, Moreno’s managerial skills were honed in his 20 years in the corporate legal profession and 15 years in public service. A San Beda College of Law graduate, he started as a trial attorney at the Philippine National Railways, and later became the corporate legal counsel of major financial institutions. He served as associate director of the strategic planning group of Ayala Corporation and vice president and chief legal counsel of BPI Capital Corporation.

He dipped his hand in politics, by running for representative of the 1st district of Mis. Or., but lost in his first attempt. He ran again and won the subsequent two elections. In 2004, he was elected governor of the province, and reelected overwhelmingly in the succeeding elections of 2007 and 2010. He became mayor in the two mayoral elections of 2013 and 2016. He is now seeking a third term as mayor in this coming May 13 midterm elections.

Not settling to bask in his city’s accomplishments, Moreno admits that some gains have yet to be made. The city’s population is 700,000 people, but actually has 1.5 million warm bodies in the daytime, as a result of migration. Poverty in Misamis Oriental has been reduced through basic services, said Moreno. There is a program for informal settlers, because of migration; the highest migration rate is in CDO and Davao City. There is need for the convergence of agencies to hurdle obstacles, “that’s why our slogan is Kaabag-sa Teamwork.”

CDO has made some strides, the mayor says. But he is determined to further drive the city as “the premier city in Northern Mindanao and as a vital economic hub of southern Philippines.”

* * *

In our part of Mindanao, I discover that my contemporaries at Silliman University have children involved in the local political arena. Having known their caliber, I’m not surprised how bright and ambitious their progenies are.

Joanna Lee “Joy” Tan-Caseas, E.D., is the daughter of our long-time family friend Andres “Andring” Tan (deceased) and Toribia Augusto Tan. She is running for the position of member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, District 2, Agusan del Norte. 

Joy is the school director and principal of Buenavista Institute, and has a Ph.D from Silliman. An active educator, she has won the Teodora Alonzo Gintong Ilawan Outstanding Female Principal in the Philippines 2005-Regional title, and the National Leadership and Discipline Award in the field of Education 2004.

Joy is expected to be an asset to the province.

* * *

Two sons of Esther Magdamo Amante – are running for public positions. Ferdinand Amante Jr., an orthopaedic surgeon, is running for councilor of Butuan City. He is a former mayor of the city, but politics – the good kind – is in his blood, so he is running for Butuan city councilor. Jun-Jun. Why so? He told me, “At present, there is no opposition councilor in the Sangguniang Pambansa, it has become a ‘rubber stamp’ to the sitting mayor. My goal is to break that and be the people’s voice.”

The other son, Samuel Allan Amante, is running for  Representative of the first district of Agusan del Norte, for the first time. Due to the fast falling deadline, I can’t wait for the emailed CVs of Sammy, and those of Congressman John Erfel “Ping” Amante, and his sister Rosebell Angel Matba, children of the late Rep. Edelmiro Amante, who served as a top man of former President Fidel V. Ramos.

Hopefully in my next column I will have materials on Rep. Erfel and his sister, Rosebell Angel Matba, Butuan city mayor, who are running for the same congressional seat. This is just like the Binay brother-sister-feud in Luzon, isn’t it?  

This brings to mind the Plaza siblings, who are said to be after the same Congress seat.

I don’t know how the adage, “Blood is thicker than water” is applicable to sibling rivalries.

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