Two lawmakers have proposed raising the legal drinking age from 18 to 21 and prohibiting PWDs from buying alcohol.
Reps. Eric Yap (Benguet) and Paolo Duterte (Davao City) are looking to raise the legal drinking age from 18 to 21 and prohibit those with disabilities from buying alcohol.
Yap and Duterte filed House Bill 1753 seeks the banning of “unqualified individuals” from buying alcohol or alcoholic beverages and preventing others from buying alcohol and alcoholic beverages for them. These individuals are minors as well as persons with mental conditions.
HB 1753, also known as the Anti-Underage Drinking Act, proposes to enforce a minimum legal drinking age in the country as well as allow for criminal penalties against any person or private entity found in violation of the act to limit the access of alcohol to ineligible persons.
Under the bill, unqualified individuals include those aged below 21 and those who are above 21 “but are unable to fully take care of themselves or protect themselves from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation, or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition.”
According to Duterte, alcohol usage is the third biggest risk factor for poor health globally, causing an estimated 2.5 million deaths per year, with a disproportionate proportion occurring in the young. Moreover, he stated that a wide range of alcohol-related issues has drastic consequences on individuals and their families, negatively impacting community life.
Concurrently, Yap said the law forbids “Unqualified Individuals” from purchasing alcohol or alcoholic drinks from vendors or other sources, as well as any individual procuring alcohol or alcoholic beverages for Unqualified Individuals.
In a statement sent to Philstar.com, meanwhile, PWD Philippines president Arpee Lazaro said that while limiting alcohol consumption is a good thing, PWDs must be given free rein on whether to consume it or not. “We must be free to choose as all other non-disabled people. It goes against the grain of what we have been fighting for, that we are treated equally as those without disabilities.”
If they violate the measure for the first time, “unqualified individuals” will be referred to the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children for counseling. Meanwhile, if they commit a second violation, they will be required to attend two consecutive counseling sessions with the BCPC with their parents or guardians, which they must do if they do not participate, or their case will be escalated to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Everyone else who violates provisions of the proposed law would be punished by a P50,000 fine or jail time of up to three months. Succeeding offenses will be meted with both penalties, in addition to the revocation of their business license.
Public officers who fail to implement the proposed law will also be punished with jail time of at least one month to six months and a temporary suspension from public service.