Sotto seeks death penalty in drug cases

Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO


MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Vicente Sotto III filed a bill that would reimpose the death penalty in drug-related cases.

Sotto’s Senate Bill No. 1 would also create a special 140-division Dangerous Drugs Court (DDC) with offices in all regions of the country to unclog courts of drug-related cases.

On the special court’s authority to impose the death penalty, Sotto, a former chair of the Dangerous Drugs Board, said, “The drugs court may impose the death penalty only in accordance with the act in appropriate cases, notwithstanding Republic Act No. 9346 (that banned the imposition of the death penalty).”

“The Supreme Court shall be consulted about this provision before it becomes final,” the provision further reads.

Sotto envisions 140 three-member court divisions to exclusively hear and try violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. A DDC justice shall have the same rank as a justice of the Court of Appeals and the antigraft court Sandiganbayan.

Sotto’s two other bills, the first three for the 16th Senate, also deal with the implementation of the country’s dangerous drugs laws.

Senate Bill No. 2 seeks an amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act which would require that an inventory of seized drugs be conducted at the nearest police outpost instead of at the site of the confiscation.

Senate Bill No. 3, on the other hand, seeks to provide affordable PhilHealth coverage for those seeking drug rehabilitation.

The first bill seeks to provide each DDC division with a chief prosecutor, two deputy prosecutors and two senior assistant prosecutors that would be appointed by the President.

“Since the effectivity of the (Dangerous Drugs Act), the number of dangerous drugs cases filed… have been steadily on the rise, clogging the dockets of specially designated regional trial courts,” Sotto said in his explanatory note.

Sotto noted that a number of these cases had remained pending for a long time and the speedy administration of justice had been greatly prejudiced, “impairing not only the resolution of dangerous drugs cases, but other important cases and matters pending in the specially designated regional trial courts.”

It is imperative to create special courts in each region of the Philippines, Sotto said.

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