82,000 drug suspects seek plea bargain
The Supreme Court decision allowing plea bargaining for drug suspects will help decongest the country’s overcrowded jails, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) said on Sunday.
BJMP spokesperson Senior Insp. Xavier Solda welcomed the high court ruling, pointing out that of the nearly 150,000 inmates in overcrowded BJMP jails, around 100,000 were detained for drug cases.
“There is an urgent need to address congestion in our jails so any measures for speedy resolution of cases in courts is a welcome development for us,” Solda said.
Solda said as of July 31, the BJMP was taking care of 145,678 inmates in 466 jails or a congestion rate of “597 percent nationwide.”
“Of this number, 100,504 are drug-related cases,” he said.
The high court on Friday declared Section 23 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, which prohibited plea bargaining for drug suspects, as unconstitutional.
Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Rueda Acosta, who brought the case to the high court, welcomed the tribunal’s decision.
“We won! Now, we can have our 82,000 clients (with drug cases) go to rehab, if they’re still contaminated with drugs, so that they can go free through plea bargaining,” she said.
Acosta said allowing plea bargaining for “small-time” drug suspects would save taxpayers P1.4 billion annually.
Acosta said it would also help decongest the country’s overcrowded jails.
There are more or less 80,000 inmates nationwide who are willing to make a guilty plea.
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