MANILA, Philippines - Senator Vicente 'Tito' Sotto III wants the sale of poppy seeds in high-end stores, bakeries and groceries stopped, saying these supposedly fashionable condiments will propagate illegal drug use in the country.
In a privilege speech, Sotto said poppy seeds “are precursors of that dangerous drugs source—the opium poppy plant.”
He said the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 defines as illegal “including any and all species of opium poppy or part thereof or substances derived there.”
“Thus, the decorative and culinary arguments for the continued importation of these items are no longer availing, because the law declares the opium poppy and any part thereof as illegal. It is, as the lawyers say, mala prohibita,” Sotto stressed.
He said he was given weeks ago a report by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) that opium poppy seeds and food laced with the product are openly sold in the market, including a “high-end delicatessen in Quezon City.”
“Members of the DDB-Technical Working Group succeeded in germinating opium poppy plants from the poppy seeds bought in that high-end grocery store in Quezon City. We have pictures of the sprouting poppy plants from the seeds bought as food condiments,” he said.
He also cited, for example, the arrest of the owner of 4 branches of World Class Persian Kebab Restaurants.
Sotto said Leeyouvenhouk Baroutian was arrested while transporting 15 grams of opium along Blumentritt in Manila. Found and seized later in his house were 55 grams of opium and 9 grams of marijuana.
“I am concerned, Mr. President, because before World War II, we had no marijuana plantation. It took only one flowerpot of marijuana after the Second World War for us to become today a significant grower of marijuana, with us ranking second only to Mexico in marijuana production,” Sotto stressed.
He said the seeds openly sold in the market will subsequently lead to huge opium poppy plantations in the future.
“The law is clear. The mandate is there. Let us begin in earnest in this long and difficult road to make a drug-free Philippines,” he added.