February 20, 2022 | 1:39 p.m.
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential aspirant Senator Manny Pacquiao has rejected proposals to ban small community or sari-sari shops from selling over-the-counter drugs, stressing that not everyone has access the medications he needs.
Pacquiao said this in response to the Department of Home Affairs and Local Government’s recent call on local governments to stop sari-sari shops from selling over-the-counter drugs without any permits.
In a statement sent to reporters, Pacquiao slammed the crackdown as “anti-poor and highly inconvenient for rural people”, calling it an added burden on small shop owners who still have to pay for permits given the situation of poor Filipinos living in the countryside.
“Let’s consider that not everyone is near a pharmacy. In other regions, cities are ten or twenty kilometers from a pharmacy, and not all of them are open 24 hours a day,” he said. he said in Filipino.
“Not everyone has a car to drive into town to buy medicine at night. Also, most of them only buy at retail, so maybe the fare or the fuel consumed is more expensive than the drugs they buy,” he also said.
During President Rodrigo Duterte’s public address last week, the Food and Drug Administration reported that from Jan. 13 to Feb. 11, it received 185 reports of sari-sari stores selling drugs illegally. Of those, 78 were guilty while nine stores were selling fake drugs, including COVID-19 drugs.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said he had ordered the Philippine National Police to immediately arrest violators who persisted in selling drugs, especially fake ones, despite having no authority to sell them.
But Pacquiao said on Sunday that sari-sari shops are the most accessible source of medicine needed for common ailments like flu, flu, diarrhea or stomach aches and body aches.
“Over-the-counter drugs, also called non-prescription drugs, are drugs that you can buy without a prescription. They are safe and effective for common ailments,” its statement read.
The former boxer-turned-lawmaker said that instead of regulation, an effective crackdown on smuggling should address concerns about the alleged proliferation of fake drugs.
As a minimum requirement, Pacquiao said sari-sari shops may be required to submit a list of drugs they sell to their barangays to enable proper oversight.
The senator, who had previously accused a number of government departments of corruption, said government officials protecting counterfeit drug smugglers must be arrested immediately.
“We must restrict the entry of counterfeit drugs and small miscellaneous stores must not be oppressed. No counterfeits can be sold if no counterfeits can enter the country. We just have to apply our generic law well in order to make accessible cheap but effective drugs to people,” he said.
Pacquiao’s statements were echoed by senatorial candidate and former Quezon City mayor Herbert Bautista in a separate statement released Sunday calling on the government to be more lenient with sari-sari shops.
“Why make it difficult for small entrepreneurs who do a great service to their communities?…Let’s not make it harder for our people to buy the drugs that don’t need prescriptions,” he said. he stated in a report. by the Manila Bulletin.
“Why do we have to complicate things? These sari-sari shops do not sell prescription drugs or HIV medications. They just sell medicine for headaches, fevers, coughs, colds which are available everywhere,” he pointed out.
— with reports by Gaea Katreena Cabico