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Gastos lang! Atienza blasts Villafuerte’s proposal to allot P1.3B for marijuana research

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Party-list Cong. Lito Atienza (Buhay) has opposed the proposal of Deputy Speaker for Finance Luis Raymund Villafuerte to earmark an initial P1.3 billion for research on medical marijuana.

Atienza said Villafuerte’s proposal does not sit well him since it might pave way for the backdoor decriminalization of cannabis products.

Villafuerte recently filed House Bill No. 3961 which seeks P1 billion in new appropriations to establish the Marijuana R&D Fund.

Villafuerte is also seeking another P300 million for the establishment and operations of the Philippine Cannabis Development Authority on its first year alone.

“P1.3 billion is a lot of money. It is in fact enough to provide an additional 677,000 underfed children in public schools with at least one fortified meal daily for 120 days,” said Atienza.

The former Manila mayor warned that HB 3961 “simply seeks to legalize marijuana via the back door, just like the controversial measure proposing to sanction medical cannabis”

“Why should Congress provide money for research into and the development of an illegal substance? If wealthy nations wish to squander public funds on marijuana research, then that’s up to them. But in our case, we don’t need it, and we certainly can’t afford it,” Atienza said.

Atienza stressed that such proposals from the Bicolano solon are only “huge waste of taxpayer money” that could be put to better use to augment funding for vital social programs, such as the school-based feeding program for half-starved children.”

According to Atienza, the Department of Education (DepEd) spends P16 for every fortified meal freely supplied to underweight children from kindergarten to Grade 6 under the School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP).

The DepEd is spending P5 billion this year and another P6 billion in 2020 for the SBFP.

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