Heavier penalties for drug offenses during pandemic, calamities sought
MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker is seeking to impose stiffer penalties against individuals who would commit drug-related offenses during a pandemic, calamity, or similar emergencies.
House Bill No. 8042, filed by Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez, sought to amend Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and introduce heavier penalties against violations committed during a pandemic or calamity.
Rodriguez said that despite the raging health crisis, the drug problem in the country “still persists and could be considered to have worsened.”
Citing data from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Rodriguez said a total of 4,354 drug offenders were arrested, while 2.2 kilos of shabu and 13.7 kilos of marijuana with a combined street value of P151 million were confiscated from September 2 to 27 this year.
“Thus, the need to amend Republic Act No. 9165, or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, to include a provision making the commission of any of the unlawful acts prescribed by the law during a pandemic or a state of calamity an aggravating circumstance, increasing the penalty one degree higher,” Rodriguez said in the bill.
The measure adds a new Section 36 to RA No. 9165, which states: “Aggravating Circumstance – The penalty one degree higher shall be imposed if any of the unlawful acts above is committed during an epidemic, pandemic, calamity, or a state of calamity as declared by the President of the Republic of the Philippines.”
Under R.A. No. 9165, the maximum penalty is life imprisonment and a fine of P500,000 to P10 million. It is imposed on serious offenses, including possession, importation, manufacture, and distribution.
The lightest penalty is a prison term of one year and one day to six years, plus a fine of P10,000 to P50,000.
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