>MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has finally raised the alarm on the use of opium poppy seeds.
In a press release, PDEA Director General Jose Gutierrez, Jr. said “in order for us to be truly effective in our campaign against dangerous drugs, it is high time that we strictly enforce the law without fear or favor.”
In a privilege speech on Monday, Senator Vicente Sotto III said poppy seeds, sold in high-end stores and bakeries, are “precursors of that dangerous drugs source—the opium poppy plant.”
In reaction, however, PDEA said there should be enough guidelines to do a crackdown on establishments and individuals using poppy seeds.
This apparently irritated Sotto.
Gutierrez said: “Amidst the popularity of opium poppy seeds as a palliative ingredient in pastries, salads and other food preparations and the permissive atmosphere, we are joining the Honorable Senator in issuing a stern warning to all establishments to cease and desist including this dangerous drug in their menu. This is simply because the law expressly prohibits it.”
PDEA Legal and Prosecution Service Director Alvaro Lazaro said several establishments have openly sold opium poppy seeds as an ingredient in culinary and baking recipes.
Gutierrez added opium poppy, the source of the seeds, is included in the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by the 1972 protocol.
Section 4, Article II of Republic Act 9165 penalizes the Importation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals with the penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million.
This includes “any and all species of opium poppy or any part thereof or substances derived therefrom even for floral, decorative and culinary purposes.”