THE Philippines’ House of Representatives withdrew its approval of the reimposed death penalty for convicted offenders found in possession of illegal drugs during parties, social gatherings and meetings on Wednesday, February 6.
Assistant Majority Leader and Zamboanga Sibugay First District Rep. Wilter Palma II made a motion to reconsider the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 after it was approved on its third and final reading on Monday, February 4.
“Madam Speaker, I move that we recommit House Bill No. 8909 to the committee on dangerous drugs to allow the committee to introduce necessary amendments thereto,” Palma said as reported by The Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Deputy Majority Leader and Kabayan Representative Ron Salo agreed and moved for the reconsideration of the recommitment of the bill to the panel level.
“Madam Speaker, earlier we recommitted House Bill No. 8909 to the committee on dangerous drugs for necessary amendments. I move, Madam Speaker, that we reconsider the recommitment of House Bill No. 8909 to the committee on dangerous drugs,” Salo added.
The said bill authored by House Speaker and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo elevated the punishment from life imprisonment to death for those who dare to violate the Dangerous Drugs Law.
On Monday, the lower house approved the bill with an overwhelming vote of 172-0. The lower legislative chamber sought to strengthen the drug campaign of Duterte by proposing amendments to the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (Republic Act 9165).
“Any person found possessing any dangerous drugs during a party, or at a social gathering or meeting, or in the proximate company of at least two persons shall suffer the penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine of P500,000 to 10 million, regardless of the quantity and purity of such dangerous drugs,” the bill stated.
In the same bill, drug trafficking is defined as the “illegal cultivation, culture, delivery, administration, dispensation, manufacture, sale, trading, transportation, distribution, importation, exportation, chemical diversion” and having “precursor chemicals.”
Other amendments include the reduced validity of certificates from drug testing centers from one year to three months. Athletes will be required to undergo drug testing twice a year.
House committee on Dangerous Drugs chairman and Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers enumerated the implications that illegal drug trade and abuse have caused in the Philippine society.
“I am fully aware of the dangers, as well as the irreparable damage, that this menace has brought our people, our children and how the entire future of our country has been compromised. Senseless killings, irreversible brain damage and a completely wasted populace are but some of the realities we face with the proliferation of illegal drugs,” Barbers said as reported by The Philippine Star.