A bill approved on second reading by the House of Representatives a day before the bloody Quezon City shootout between operatives of two law enforcement units will have to be amended if found necessary as a result of the “misencounter” on Wednesday, February 24.
Approved Tuesday, House Bill 7814 seeks to plug legal loopholes that have served as stumbling blocks in government’s successful implementation of the anti-drug war.
House Bill 7814 contains amendments to Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002.
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said several legal issues and controversies in the conduct of anti-drug operations surfaced as a result of Thursday’s “misencounter” between Quezon City police operatives and agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency that resulted to the death of four persons, three of them belonging to the two agencies.
“These things will have to be clarified in order for us to introduce proper legislation, timely as it is because we have just approved on second reading the proposed amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act which we intend to address situations such as this,” said Barbers, chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs.
HB 7814 is expected to be passed on third and final reading within the next two weeks.
“Although the current anti-drug campaign has gained initial success, the war on drugs is far from over. Drug users and syndicates continue to flourish due to certain loopholes in the current anti-drug law that are being exploited to evade prosecution and conviction,” explained Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs.
He stated: “The bill provides among others for a legal presumption of who is considered as i the importer, financier and protector or coddler of illegal drugs as well as the legal consequences or penalties for importers and financiers of illegal drugs and their protectors and coddlers.”
HB 7814 consolidated various provisions of 11 bills filed among others by, Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez; Reps. Elizaldy S. Co and Alfredo A. Garbin Jr. of Ako Bicol Partylist: Mario Victor A. Marino (PDP-Laban, Batangas); France Castro (ACT Teachers Partylist); Eufemia Cullamat (Bayan Muina); and Manuel DG Cabochan III (Magdalo Partylist).
Barbers said the bill is expected to further strengthen the government campaign against the proliferation of dangerous drugs int he coutnry.
It provides for a legal presumption on who is considered an importer, financier and protector or coddler of illegal drugs.
Negligent lessors whose properties are used as clandestine laboratories are also penalized unless they are able to submit documents that would free them from liabilities.
The bill also limits the validity of drug test certificatres issued by accredited drug testing centers to just three months.
Co and Garbin filed HB 1547 calling for the legal procedure in the disposition and rehabilitation of drug dependents or drug pushers and dealers who voluntarily surrender.
Persons found in possession of unauthorized narcotics may be allowed to under drug rehabilitation if they test positive for drug use. Otherwise, a person arrested with possession of illegal substance but is found negative to drug test, is presumed to be a drug peddler.
The bill also provides that persons found or is present within the premises of a clandestine laboratory or place where dangerous drug is manufactured, produced, paced or processed is presumed to be involved in the illegal activity.
Acquittal of an accused due to “patent laxity, inexcusable neglect, unreasonable delay or deliberate action by the concerned prosecutor, arresting officers or law enforcers shall be investigated by the Office of tghe Ombudsman or the Civil Service Commission.