Medical Marijuana Coming to the Philippines?

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Medical Marijuana Coming to the Philippines?

Also: Singapore’s SMRT receives high marks, five of seven missing Japanese divers rescued in Bali.

Medical Marijuana Coming to the Philippines?

Some Tuesday ASEAN links:

The Philippines’ Health Secretary, Enrique Ona, told reporters yesterday that the Department of Health is neither for nor against medical marijuana, but said that more studies are necessary before the controversial treatment is approved.

A bill that would legalize the usage of medical pot was filed in the House of Representatives by Isabela representative Rodolfo Albano III. It was met with laughs and criticism from some, but keen interest from others. Albano cited a recent statement from CNN’s medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta that “[for some patients] medical marijuana is the only thing that works.”

Ona said that “medical use” must be strictly defined and that there would be no reason to legalize medical cannabis “if there are other alternatives.” He added that allowing marijuana for medicinal purposes could potentially lead to abuse, emphasizing the need for further research.

“Medical cannabis has reportedly shown potential benefits in relieving nausea due to chemotherapy, some symptoms of AIDS and chronic pain, among others,” wrote The Inquirer.

Over in Singapore, public transportation operator SMRT was ranked among the best in the world “in terms of international benchmarking standards,” reported Channel NewsAsia.

“SMRT ranked 10 out of 29 in terms of incidents causing more-than-five-minute delays per million car kilometers travelled,” said the study, which was conducted by CoMET Nova Benchmarking Group. The metro operators surveyed included firms in Asia, Europe and the U.S.

“SMRT has upgraded the train propulsion software to reduce power faults, replaced power supply units for the train propulsion system, and installed electronic noise filters to improve the reliability of the signaling system,” the report continued. “SMRT is now in the process of refurbishing a number of components in propulsion, brakes, pneumatic and [air-conditioning] systems.”

The city-state operator announced plans to perform a mid-life upgrade to its current fleet of Siemens trains, as well as a new sensor system that will collect data on track and train systems in order to better serve commuters.

On the Indonesian resort island of Bali, search and rescue teams have found five of the seven Japanese divers that went missing off the coast of Nusa Lembogan on Friday. Though authorities would not comment on their condition, photos showed them alive and conscious despite exhibiting signs of serious sunburn.

The five survivors were flown to a hospital in the Balinese capital of Denpasar. No new information has been made available about the two divers who remain missing.

The five tourists and two instructors – all Japanese women – were expert divers with more than 50 dives each. The skipper of the boat that was supposed to return the women to shore after their dive told reporters that a sudden downpour clouded the water and disrupted his visibility.

“He moved his 10-meter boat to a point hundreds of meters away where the divers were expected to resurface at an agreed time,” wrote The Guardian. “The skipper said he searched for them for an hour before reporting the incident. But [Bali’s search and rescue chief Didi] Hamzar told reporters on Sunday he had received information that the skipper had run out of fuel at some point and had to refill before heading to the agreed meeting spot.”

The dive location, Nusa Lembogan’s “Blue Point” is recommended only for experienced divers due to strong currents. The women were found 20 kilometers from where they had started their dive.

UPDATE: The two remaining divers have been found alive. The Wall Street Journal reports that rescue teams are in the process of recovering them from a cliff.

UPDATE 2: The WSJ has corrected an earlier story, stating an error in reporting from authorities. The two people sighted on a cliff were in fact rescue workers who had been left there overnight. One of the remaining divers was found dead, but the seventh is still missing.