In the recently concluded Philippine National Elections, the seemingly ferocious Mayor of Davao City is now the presumptive President of the country. Rodrigo Duterte's iron-clad style of government had been widely accepted in his turf, Davao, and the whole country for that matter. And as his formal takeover is nearing, Duterte's decisions on some pressing matters have gained both approval and negation from the people just like his recently announced supportfor the use of medical marijuana.
In a country with Catholics dominating almost 80 percent of its population, it is safe to say that pressing issues concerning moral values are considered sensitive matters. The idea of allowing the use of medical marijuana in the Philippines had been opposed by various groups ever since the idea was presented to the public.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is adamant in their lobby to oppose the use of medical marijuana. Although there are people and organizations who also endorse the use of medical marijuana, a bill was actually filed in the Philippine Congress to legalize the use of medical marijuana in 2014.
"We are at this stage, we have Filipinos who need care, we should give them compassionate care - this medical cannabis. There are a lot of medicines, but they are expensive," said Rep. Leah Paquiz, co-author of the bill in an interview with CNN Philippines.
But until today, the bill remains untouched by the seemingly conservative majority in the congress. But the strong-willed Duterte is about to change that.
Presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte or Digong as he is fondly called is uncompromising when it comes to the use of illegal drugs. He openly expressed his anger towards drug pushers and his intent to kill those who don't want to obey his commands but is openminded when it comes to the use of medical marijuana.
Although he said he would never allow the use of recreational marijuana, Digong is in favor of medical marijuana because of the benefits it can provide to those who need it. "Medical marijuana, yes, because it is an ingredient of modern medicine now. There are medicines now being developed or already in the market that contains marijuana as a component but used for medical purposes" said Duterte in an interview with ABS-CBN.
Duterte is open to the use of medical marijuana, but according to a report by Politics Today, he said that he will leave the decision to the concerned government department where the issue will be discussed in the proper venue acknowledging that the decision is not entirely up to him.
But despite his assurance that medical marijuana may be allowed in the Philippines, he reminded those who are planning to abuse the law that his rule against illegal drugs will apply. As Digong always say, 'either they follow the rule or they die'.