Tabuk barangay tries to abridge freedom of spit
TABUK CITY, Kalinga – As of press time, around 100 have been apprehended with 50 fined and the rest let go after being warned and made to clean up their mess in the ongoing crackdown on betel nut or momma chewers who spit out anywhere they fancy in barangay Dagupan Centro, this city.
Under Ordinance No. 01, series of 2018, improper disposal of momma spittle is penalized by P300.00 and/or imprisonment of five days for first offense, P400.00 and/or imprisonment of 10 days for second offense and P500.00 and/or imprisonment of 15 days for third offense.
Barangay Captain George Esteras said that the uncontrolled, filthy and unsightly practice of momma chewers of spitting anywhere with the situation getting worse because of the increase in their number has forced the council to take action in July.
Esteras makes it clear that the ordinance does not prohibit people from chewing momma but only the improper disposal of their juice. Residents and transients could engage in momma chewing in the barangay but they should bring their spittle containers to spit into, he said.
Esteras claims that after more than four months of patrolling by barangay officials, tanods and some members of the Public Order and Safety Office of the Tabuk City LGU and the imposition of the penalties, a breakthrough has been achieved what with the less fresh red spots on the ground and other surfaces.
However, there are defiant momma users who continue to act as though they are trying the patience of their barangay council, Esteras said.
The barangay captain laments the resistance of some people to the ordinance. He cannot understand that these momma chewers would behave in Baguio City, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya and in Ifugao but do not care when in Kalinga.
Momma chewing is common among the tribes in Ifugao, Kalinga, eastern Mtn. Province and some parts of Abra and Apayao with the population centers of these places sharing the problem of Dagupan Centro with the ubiquitous red spittle.
Dagupan Centro is the first LGU in Kalinga to try to instill discipline among momma chewers.
If only momma addicts in the barangay just listen to warnings on the dire effects of their vice it would be very much easier for the barangay council to implement the ordinance.
Former Tabuk mayor and current National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Commissioner Basilio Wandag said that three of his relatives died of oral cancer caused by chewing momma.
Wandag clarified that although momma chewing is a traditional practice of the Madukayong tribe of Natonin, Mtn. Province to whom he and the three victims belong, the three were the only ones known to have suffered and died from the habit.
On the other hand, Dentist Grace Ann Tarnate said that contrary to the notion of that betel nut chewing strengthens the teeth, the habit can cause gum irritation and tooth decay.
She observed that her momma-chewing patients usually lack oral hygiene which put them at higher risk for oral sub-mucous fibrosis, an incurable condition which cause stiffness in the month and eventually, the loss of jaw movement.
The poor oral hygiene also results to root caries because of the momma and food and calcular deposits which lodged so long at the end pocket depths and eventually tooth extraction, Tarnate said.
On the other hand, medical doctor Nellie Alejandrino said that she and other doctors in the locality are urging people to stop using betel nut because it causes cancer elaborating that it is not the betel nut itself but the lime because its processing involves burning.
She said that when mixed with tobacco, the betel nut is even more dangerous because tobacco is not only carcinogenic but also spikes blood pressure.**By Estanislao C. Albano, Jr.