President Rodrigo Duterte is against legalizing medical marijuana, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing here on Tuesday.
“Ang Presidente po, tutol diyan (The President is against that),” Roque said, citing the President is not inclined to approve the medical marijuana bill if Congress okays it.
“In no certain words, he told me that he is against it, dahil hindi mo makokontrol pag pinayagan mo ng magtanin ng marijuana (You cannot control it anymore if you legalize the planting of marijuana),” he added, pointing out that the Cordillera is bounded by mountains and monitoring its entirety would be difficult.
The upland region is a known source of the illegal grass.
He said the government’s focus now is to control the sale, transport, and use of illegal drugs across the country.
“Sa ngayon po importante muna na labanan natin ang pinagbabawal na droga. Perolater on po, pag na control na ang pinagbabawal na droga, pwede natin pag aralan yan(What is important right now is to fight illegal drugs. Once we have controlled illegal drugs, we could already study it),” Roque told reporters.
He said Filipinos should instead focus on other crops and livelihood that have lucrative markets, and therefore, bigger income source and better living.
“Napakarami pong programs ang Department of Agriculture (DA) para sa ating mgafarmers. Napakarami pong crops na pwedeng gamitin na binhi at pwedeng palakihin ng ating mga magsasaka. Mayroon din mga livelihood na pwedeng alternatibong source ng income (The Department of Agriculture has many programs for the farmers. There are also many crops that can be grown by the farmers. There are also other available livelihood or income sources),” he added.
He noted that cash crops and cut flowers with very good market abound.
He said the government has been building roads to the farthest towns and villages in the country to let farmers plant legitimate products and bring them to the market for sale.
Roque even warned marijuana cultivators of facing a lifetime in jail once caught.
He said that while he co-authored the medical marijuana bill in Congress during his stint as a congressman, he now stands by the position of the President, who objects to it.
The medical marijuana bill still awaits Congress’ approval. (With reports from Azer Parrocha/PNA)