Medical marijuana bill refiled at House | Malaya Business Insight

Vigilia, W. & Nonato, V. (2019, July 02). Medical marijuana bill refiled at House. Malaya Business Insight. Retrieved July 02, 2019 from

Medical marijuana bill refiled at House
BY Wendell Vigilia and Vince Nonato – July 02, 2019

THE bill seeking to legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes was among the first measures filed at the House of Representatives yesterday, along with the divorce and freedom of information bills.

Isabela Re. Antonio Albano refiled the medical marijuana bill that reached approval on final reading last January.

The House committee on health last year approved the measure after holding consultations with patients, advocacy groups, health care practitioner, experts in the regulation of controlled use of substances for medicinal purposes, medical cannabis industry professionals and law enforcements agencies.

The bill states marijuana, also known as cannabis, “has been confirmed to have beneficial and therapeutic uses to treat chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition.”

These include cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe and chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to those characteristics of epilepsy; and severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those associated with multiple sclerosis, Albano said.

The bill seeks to establish Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers (MCCC) to be licensed by the Department of Health based in DOH-retained hospitals, specialty hospitals and private tertiary hospitals that can sell, supply and dispense cannabis to qualified patients or their caregivers through a pharmacist with a license issued by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman filed the bill instituting absolute divorce in the Philippines which he called “a sequel to the Reproductive Health Act.”

“Like the RH Law, the bill granting absolute divorce is a pro-woman legislation because it is the wives in irreconcilably broken marriages who need relief from their husbands’ philandering and cruelty,” Lagman said.

Each member of the 18th Congress was only allowed to file 10 bills yesterday at the Batasan Building South Wing Lobby where a booth was set up for those who want to file their measures earlier than the opening of session on July 22.

The first five bills were filed by opposition lawmakers Reps. Raul del Mar (LP, Cebu) Lagman, who led the bloc in the 17th Congress.

The first four bills filed by Del Mar were: House Bills No. 11 (“An Act Creating Mega Cebu Development Authority”); HB 12 (“An Act Strengthen the Rights of Citizen to Information Held by the Government”); HB 13 (“An Act Allowing the Use of Motorcycles as Public Utility Vehicle”); and HB 14 “(“An Act Providing for a Light Rail Transport (LRT) or Metro Rail Transport (MRT) or Monorail in Cebu City or Metro Cebu”) while Lagman filed HB 15 (“Human Rights Defenders Protection Act”).

Members of the Left-leaning Makabayan bloc filed a total of 67 bills and resolutions, including the measure prohibiting political dynasty, repealing the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law (TRAIN), instituting a P750 national minimum wage, the Anti “No Permit, No Exam” Bill, the measure increasing the salary of public school teachers and other government employees, and the Teacher Protection Bill.

The Makabayan bloc is composed of the party-lists Bayan Muna, Kabataan, Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Gabriela.

The provision of scholarships for medical students, the grant of 14th-month pay to workers, and the increase of public school teachers’ salaries topped the agenda of the senators who filed their first 10 bills for the 18th Congress as it began yesterday.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III made Senate Bill No. 1 a measure providing medical scholarships in state universities and colleges in exchange for staying to work in the country for five years. At least two of those years must be spent on a government hospital or office in the area of residence.

Similarly, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto filed a measure numbered Senate Bill No. 41. Recto’s version would fund the schooling of one student per municipality, on the condition that he would serve it for four years.

Both measures seek to address the problem of lack of doctors in government hospitals, despite the volume of patients seeking their cheaper services. Recto noted that aspiring doctors get discouraged by the high cost of schooling, low pay and absence of opportunities for further training.
Sotto also observed that “there is lack of physicians in the country caused by most doctors preferring to practice in the urban areas than in the rural.”

Also included among Sotto’s first bills was Senate Bill No. 10 that seeks to grant private sector workers a 14th-month pay.

“The 13th month pay is gobbled up by Christmas expenses. We need extra earnings in the middle of the year to help ordinary workers in school and medical expenses,” Sotto said, stressing that the most recent minimum wage adjustment of P25 was not enough.

The bill provided for a deadline of June 14 and Dec. 24 for the payment of the 13th-month and 14th-month pay.

Sen. Ramon Revilla, Jr. filed a bill seeking the P125 across-the-board increase in the daily salary rates of private sector workers and employees.

Senators Juan Edgardo Angara and Nancy Binay focused on the plight of teachers. Angara filed a bill to upgrade their salary ranks to Salary Grade 19 from the current Salary Grade 11, while Binay proposed to increase the monthly minimum wage of teaching and non-teaching personnel to P28,000 and P16,000, respectively.

Binay also sought to exempt from the income tax the allowances granted to teachers who serve in the elections and also proposed educational assistance to public school teachers. Revilla sought to grant teaching supplies allowances to public school teachers.

The other bills filed by Sotto were: Senate Bills Nos. 2, 3 and 4, creating a detention facility for high-level drug offenders, the Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority and the Dangerous Drugs Court.
Sotto also filed Senate Bill No. 5 to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12 years old, from the current 15.

However, children aged 9 to 12 who commit the serious crimes of murder, rape, destructive arson, kidnapping with homicide or rape, robbery with homicide or rape, catnapping or illegal drugs would be deemed “neglected” and mandatorily placed in Bahay Pag-asa facilities.

Senate Bill No. 6 seeks to amend the Human Security Act, the country’s 12-year old anti-terrorism law. Senate Bill No. 7, meanwhile, seeks to provide for a “hybrid” election system in which votes are manually cast and counted at the precinct level and then transmitted and canvassed in an automated manner.

Senate Bill No. 8 seeks to increase the penalty for perjury, while Senate Bill No. 9 seeks to punish the publication of “fake news,” or knowingly using online accounts to circulate information “that is false or that would tend to mislead the public.”

Revilla’s other bills seek to lower the optional and mandatory retirement ages of government employees, establish the Special Hospital for Overseas Filipino Workers and Their Dependents, convert Sangley Point in Cavite City into an international logistics hub, exempt drugs used to treat mental health conditions from the value-added tax, provide barangay officials and workers with retirement benefits, establish the Books for the Barrios program, provide a permanent item for disaster officers in every local government unit, and establish an on-site, in-city relocation program for informal settlers.

Angara’s first bills seek to grant discounts to underprivileged students, increase the monthly social pension of senior citizens, create the Dialysis Center, and provide for a “Tatak Pinoy” industrialization policy, Magna Cartas for seafarers and barangays, a Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Act, and the right to adequate food.

Category: National | Malaya Business Insight

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