CBCP: We neither endorse nor object to grass bill
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Monday clarified that it neither endorses nor objects to the controversial bill in the House of Representatives that would allow the medical use of marijuana in the Philippines.
“Let us make the point clear: In respect to whatever measures are now pending before the legislature, [the] CBCP neither endorses nor objects, realizing that the regulatory schemes and administrative strategies they attempt to establish are beyond the competence of the CBCP to comment on,” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, said in a statement posted on his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Villegas issued the clarification in reaction to the headline of the Inquirer banner story yesterday, “CBCP backs marijuana bill,” which he said was “misleading.”
The CBCP on Sunday issued a pastoral statement, pitching its stand on a proposal in the House that would legalize medical marijuana in the Philippines.
According to Villegas, what the CBCP pastoral letter did was to reiterate the teaching of the Church.
“Addiction is wrong, and those who facilitate addiction by placing habituating drugs within easy reach commit a very serious wrong,” Villegas said.
“The constant teaching of the Church is that palliative care using narcotics is ethically permissible when there is no other convenient and available means with which to alleviate the suffering of the terminally ill,” he said.
“In other cases,” he said, “the principle of proportionality is to be applied, which makes means licit when there is proportion between the risks and disadvantages and the benefits expected or anticipated.”
The House committee on health is debating Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III’s bill for the adoption of medical marijuana in the Philippines.
Albano filed the bill in May last year aware of the Catholic Church’s teaching on the use of prohibited drugs in caring for the terminally ill.
The medical community opposes the bill, citing insufficient evidence that marijuana is beneficial for certain conditions.
Activist priest Robert Reyes yesterday joined the opposing voices, saying marijuana would “not do anything for the terminally ill and very sick people.”
Citing personal experience with critical patients through Buhay Ka, a cancer support group he helped form several years ago, Reyes said marijuana could not deal with the pain of the terminally ill.
“Marijuana can’t do anything for them. They are already using morphine and other sedatives that are much stronger than marijuana to ease the pain, but oftentimes it is not enough,” said Reyes, who is now based in Santiago, Isabela province.
“What we should give to terminally ill patients is not only pain relieving drugs. What they need most is compassionate love and care from their loved ones and friends during their crucial moments,” he said.
Reyes acknowledged, however, that marijuana was not addictive.
“There are studies that it is psychologically addictive. It is predisposed to addiction, but not useful for the terminally ill,” he said.
Reyes expressed fear that the legalization of marijuana in the Philippines, even for medical purposes, would lead to abuse, especially by drug users.
“Once legalized, it will cater only to the needs of marijuana leisure users and not [to those of] the terminally ill and seriously sick patients,” he said.
Reyes also said the enactment of Albano’s bill would benefit only marijuana growers.
He said Albano’s bill had “a business angle to it.”
The enactment of the bill, he said, will be followed by the rise of “profiteers from the ranks of unscrupulous government officials, politicians and crooked authorities who will take advantage of the new cash crop,” he said, referring to legal marijuana. With a report from Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon
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