Criminal Law

House approves Bill strengthening Drug Prevention and Control Law

Date: 03 February 2019; Type: Legal News; Source: House of Representatives

The House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill 8909, principally authored by former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, which seeks to strengthen the drug prevention and control campaign of the government by amending Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002”, as amended.

Among the salient features of the bill is that it provides for a legal presumption of who is considered as the importer, financier, and protector or coddler of illegal drugs.

The bill also provides for an amended definition of drug trafficking which shall be the illegal cultivation, culture, delivery, administration, dispensation, manufacture, sale, trading, transportation, distribution, importation, exportation, chemical diversion, and possession of any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical.

Moreover, the measure seeks to penalize exportation from the Philippines of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals. Section 4 of RA 9165, as amended, penalizes only their importation.

It also seeks to penalize negligent lessors of properties used as clandestine laboratories. Lessors of properties shall be required to submit documents to avoid their properties from being used for illegal drug purpose.

The penalty of imprisonment ranging from six years and one day to 12 years , and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P1 million shall be imposed upon the owner or lessor of a building, warehouse, or any property, or in his/her absence the duly authorized representative who leases the property to any person but omits or fails to ascertain, check and confirm that the property is actually used for lawful purpose, and which property is found to have actually been used as clandestine laboratory or used in the manufacture or storage of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals.

The maximum penalty shall be imposed upon the owner or lessor or his duly authorized representative who has discovered the illegal activity but failed to report the same to proper authorities.

If a property is owned by a third person and the same is used as a den, dive, or resort to commit a violation of the provisions of RA 9165, criminal liability shall extend to the partner, president, director, manager, trustee, estate administrator, or officer of the corporation or partnership who consents to or tolerates such violation.

The bill also seeks to ensure that Filipino professional and non-professional athletes, in any kind of sport, are drug-free, by providing for their mandatory drug testing twice a year. Any athlete found positive for use of dangerous drugs shall be suspended subject to further investigation by appropriate government agencies.

Drug test certificates issued by accredited drug testing centers shall now be valid only up to three months from the original one year period to ensure their reliability.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) shall organize a special unit or office under its intelligence and investigation services to monitor, by the use of electronic device, all activities of any person engaged in importation, exportation, manufacture, plantation, cultivation, selling, pushing, trading, transportation or distribution of illegal drugs or similar substances, and their financiers, protectors or coddlers.

Subject to the provisions of Republic Act No, 4200 entitled “An Act to Prohibit and Penalize Wire tapping and Other Related Violations of the Privacy of Communication, and For Other Purposes”, any information gathered or obtained in the course of valid monitoring, whether before or after the subject person is charged for violation of the Act, may be used in evidence against him.

The Heads of the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), or other government agencies and local government units (LGUs) performing law enforcement functions or missions shall be authorized to continue placement of their personnel on detail service with the PDEA upon the request of the PDEA Director-General for a period not exceeding five years.

The authorization for detail service from other services shall cease when the PDEA is able to recruit a minimum of 3,000 organic agents.

Hazard pay equivalent to 25 percent of monthly salary shall be granted to officials, agents, investigators and other personnel of the PDEA whose geographical assignment or functional mission expose them to greater danger or risk, subject to accounting and auditing requirements.

Meanwhile, the bill expands the composition of the Dangerous Drugs Board from 17 to 20 members.

The bill was sponsored on the floor by Committee on Dangerous Drugs Chairman Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, who is also an author of the bill. Other authors are Reps. Rozanno Rufino Biazon, Leopoldo Bataoil, Victor Yap. Winston “Winnie” Castelo, Maximo Rodriguez Jr. Peter Unabia, Rodel Batocabe (deceased), Alfredo Garbin, Christopher Co, Christopher V. P. De Venecia, Mariano Michael Velarde, Jose Enrique III, and Joseph Sto. Niño Bernos, among others.

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