House reimposes death penalty for drug possession at parties, meetings

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Voting 172-0 Monday, lawmakers passed House Bill 8909 amending Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 6) — The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading Monday a bill reimposing capital punishment in the penal system for persons found in possession of dangerous drugs while at social gatherings or meetings.

Voting 172-0, lawmakers passed House Bill 8909 amending Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. The bill consolidates 15 other House bills seeking to amend this law.

Section 13 of the House Bill reads: "Any person found possessing any dangerous drug during a party, or at a social gathering or meeting, or in the proximate company of at least (2) persons, shall suffer the penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine of P500,000 to P10,000,000, regardless of the quantity and purity of such dangerous drugs."

The bill also presumes that people apprehended for suspected drug use have used the dangerous drug if he or she has some physical manifestation of being a dangerous drug user and if he or she refuses to submit to a drug test within 24 hours of his or her apprehension.

The presumption can be overturned by a negative drug test.

Professional and non-professional athletes will be mandated to take drug tests at least twice a year. If found positive for drug use, they will be suspended and subjected to probes by the appropriate authorities.

Other amendments also seek to penalize and hold accountable alleged importers, financiers, and protectors or coddlers of illegal drug users.

Those whose properties are found to be drug dens, or venues for illegal drug activities, will be penalized. Should the den or venue in question be owned by a third person, criminal liability extends to partners, presidents, directors, managers, trustees, estate administrators and officers of the estate.

Persons found within the vicinity of a drug laboratory are also presumed involved in the manufacturing of these dangerous drugs.

But HB 8909 also provides provisions against law enforcement units "planting evidence" of drug use.

If a law enforcement personnel is charged or prosecuted for allegedly putting or placing dangerous drugs on those accused or their properties, he or she will be presumed to have done so if the rules of procedures and/or engagement for arrest, search and seizure have not been complied with.

The bill orders the Civil Service Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate drug-related cases acquitted or dismissed, to determine if the cases are either bungled by prosecutors and law enforcers.