House recalls bill with death penalty provision

House Majority Floor Leader Fredenil Castro. (HOR)

By Hananeel Bordey

The House has recalled a bill amending the Dangerous Drug Act of 2002 wherein drug possession during parties and social gatherings is punished by life imprisonment or death.

Last Monday, HB 8909, which contained death penalty provision under Section 13, passed third and final reading with the vote of 172-0.

However, it was recalled on Wednesday and was approved on second reading Thursday.

House Majority Floor Leader Fredenil Castro said the bill was reverted to second reading because of its death penalty provision.

“We decided to reconsider final reading approval in order to clarify provisions of the bill that refer to the death penalty. This will prevent double or multiple interpretation of the death penalty provisions that might mislead Filipinos into believing that death sentence has been restored,” Castro said.

Castro added that even if the House passed the original bill, the capital punishment will not be implemented unless Congress passes a law that restores death penalty.

He said they will substitute the bill with another measure that do not provide for a death penalty and then it will be passed on second and third reading.

“In order to be clear, we are going to amend by substitution, erasing all provisions that refer to death penalty. We have to be categorical that the maximum penalty to be imposed is reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment,” Castro explained.

Under the Section 13 of the bill, any person caught in possession of any dangerous drug during a party, social gathering or meeting will suffer a penalty of “life imprisonment to death” and a fine of P500,000 to P10,000,000 regardless of the quantity and purity of any dangerous drug.

The said bill also aims to strengthen drug prevention and control by punishing negligent lessors of properties used as clandestine laboratories for making illegal drugs. If the said property was owned by a third person and was used as den, dive or resort to commit violation of Republic Act 9165, criminal liability will be extended to the partner, president, director, manager trustee, estate administrator, or officer of the corporation or partnership who consents to or tolerates the said violation.

Further, the bill requires lessors of properties to submit documents to avoid the property to be used for illegal drug purposes; punishes importer, financier, protector and coddler of illegal drugs; ensures that professional or non-professional athletes will be drug-free by requiring them to undergo drug test twice a year; cuts the period of validity of drug test certificates issued by accredited testing centers from one year to three months to ensure reliability; and increase the members of the Dangerous Drugs Board from 17 to 20.

p: wjg