POSTSCRIPT / January 30, 2003 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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US invasion of Iraq case of might is right

MIGHT IS RIGHT?: We are among the many helpless witnesses all over the globe who are not comfortable with the arguments being trotted out to justify the impending invasion of Iraq by US forces.

What or who gave the United States the right to cross national borders and attack a fellow sovereign state? US President George W. Bush just decides he does not like somebody across the sea and that’s it?

The idea of sovereignty does not hold anymore when a superior power decides to violate it. Might is right. An invasion is easy to justify in the troubled mind of a megalomaniac who has whipped up himself into war frenzy.

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BURDEN IS ON BUSH: Bush accuses Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of keeping secret weapons of mass destruction.

Since Saddam does not prove to Bush’s satisfaction that he (Saddam) does not have the alleged weapons, Bush concludes that Saddam has them — and must now attack Iraq to destroy the supposed weapons before they destroy America.

By his logic, you would know how Bush’s mind operates. Somebody should tell him that the burden of proving the presence of such weapons is on him, since he is the accuser. There has not been any conclusive proof of such weapons from an objective third party.

As accuser, is Bush implying that the US itself does not have weapons of mass destruction? Everybody knows that the US has these weapons as well as the materials and the technology to produce more of them.

It is all right, because it is America that has the dreaded weapons. But when it is somebody else, if it is Iraq (assuming it has them), it’s not okay.

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SELF-DEFENSE INVOKED: Bush says Iraq is planning a terrorist attack, so the US must take preemptive action in self-defense. But precisely there is no proof that such an attack on the US is contemplated or is imminent. It’s all propaganda so far.

Self-defense can be invoked only in case of an imminent attack. It can be resorted to also in hot pursuit.

The Sept. 11 (2001) attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade twin towers are being invoked to justify the self-defense line. But the 9-11 attacks were more than a year ago.

Besides, the attacks were not shown to have been launched by or from Iraq. In fact, the US had blamed Afghanistan and the Al-Qaeda for it. It still pursues military action in that country.

In his State of the Union speech yesterday, Bush said that the world has waited “12 years for Iraq to disarm.” Twelve years! That was more than 10 years before the 9-11 attacks that he has been invoking. Self-defense and hot pursuit are out of the question.

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U.N. COVER NEEDED: The color of the projected invasion would change somewhat, and take the nature of justifiable police action, if launched under the auspices of the United Nations.

The US and a host of like-minded nations founded the United Nations Organization (now the United Nations) after World War II mainly to prevent another global war. The UN is supposed to be humanity’s ultimate mechanism for preventing another world war.

Why is the US now bypassing the UN? Is the world body to be used only if it kowtows to the US, and ignored if it fails to toe the American line?

There is tremendous pressure on the Arroyo administration to show the flag and stand beside the US and Great Britain in this crusade against the Islamic state of Saddam.

We are glad that until this moment we are typing this, Malacanang has not endorsed Bush’s invasion of Iraq. An unassailable justification for this stance is the absence of a UN go-signal for the attack.

But how long can this small nation resist the pressure?

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WAKE UP, BFAD!: With revelations (Postscript, 28Jan03) that some common medicines have certain amounts of PPA (phenylpropanolamine) that could trigger a stroke in some patients, the Bureau of Food and Drug should spring into action to protect the public.

This drug is used in many over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription cough and cold medications as a decongestant and in OTC weight loss products.

Scientists at Yale University School of Medicine recently issued a report saying that taking PPA increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding into the brain or into tissue surrounding the brain) in women. Men may also be at risk, the report said.

There has been an average of 500 cases of stroke each year in the US blamed on PPA. In 1998, the United Nations listed PPA, also known as norephedrine, as a substance that must be regulated worldwide.

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PPA BANNED IN U.S.: With such findings, the US Food and Drug Administration has banned medicines containing PPA. Taking the cue, drug companies in the US have started to withdraw PPA-tainted medicines, make refunds, and reformulate their products.

But not in the Philippines, a favorite dumping ground of products that have been rejected, banned or condemned in the First World.

With government acquiescence, we have also been the testing ground of foreign products, including birth control drugs and exotic cures, of unproved efficacy and integrity.

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DRUGS WITH PPA LISTED: Locally-sold medicines listed in some consumer reports as containing PPA include:

  1. A-P Histallin (Medichem/Unilab)
  2. Alledec (Vita Health)
  3. Allerin (Myra)
  4. Coldrex Reformulated (Sanofi-Synthelabo)
  5. Colvan Capsule/Syrup (Pharma Dynamic)
  6. Congestril (Roddensers)
  7. Corex-DM (Pfizer)
  8. Decolgen/Decolgen Forte (Myra)
  9. Disudrin (Pediatrica)
  10. Drinus (Kramer)
  11. Elebron GPC (Lloyd)
  12. Leytuss Syrup (Leyden)
  13. Myracof Syrup/Tab (Myra)
  14. Nafarin/Nafarin A Reformulated (UAP)
  15. Neozep/Neozep Forte (Myra)
  16. Decolgen (Myra)
  17. Ornex (Glaxo Smithkline)
  18. Sinutab/Sinutab Extra Strength (Pfizer)
  19. Triaminic (Wander)
  20. Tuseran Tablet/Syrup/Forte Capsule (Medichem/Unilab)
  21. Anti-Cold (Ritemed/Unilab)

We are not saying that anybody who takes one of the medicines listed above would suffer a stroke. But it is better for consumers and the government watchdog agencies to err on the side of caution.

The manufacturers who believe in their products may want to issue firm warranties for each one.

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DRUG FIRMS CODDLED: The list keeps changing, because some medicines are later withdrawn or their formulation changed to replace harmful PPA with acceptable substitutes.

The Bureau of Food and Drug should publish periodically an updated list, with appropriate comment or recommendation per item. Also, for PPA-laced medicines allowed to be sold, the bureau should require clear warnings on the packaging and in advertising materials.

The bureau should amplify and clarify its administrative order issued in late 2000 saying PPA is safe at certain dosages (and implying that it is dangerous at higher dosages).

The BFAD must take the side of the public and not the giant drug companies. Consumers do not have the time, expertise and the equipment to test every drug in the market. They rely on the government, particularly the BFAD, to attend to this.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 30, 2003)

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