MANILA, Philippines — Decriminalizing the use of illegal drugs does not mean legalizing prohibited drugs and crimes related to them, according to Senator Robin Padilla.
Padilla clarified he and Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa are only proposing decriminalizing drug use to decongest jails in the country and save small-time drug users by rehabilitating them instead of putting them in prisons.
It was Dela Rosa who filed a bill seeking to decriminalize drug use, while Padilla openly expressed his support for the measure.
“Ngayon kaya namin sinasabi na i-decriminalize po natin, dahil karamihan ng nakakulong ay mahirap na tao,” Padilla explained in an interview at the Senate.
(We are proposing decriminalizing it because many of those in jails are poor.)
“Pag sinabi nating mahirap na tao, yan ang nakuhanan ng piso, dalawang piso, isang joint, dalawang joint, three joints. Mga driver, labandero, labandera. Yan po yung mga nakakulong diyan.”
(When we say poor, they were caught with P1, P2 [worth of illegal drugs], one joint, two, and three. They are the ones in jails.)
According to Padilla, decriminalization should be based on the amount of illegal drugs in one’s possession.
“Halimbawa piso, dalawang piso o tatlong joint e bakit natin kailangan ikulong?” he said.
(For instance, one or two pesos or three joints. Why do we need to jail them?)
“At hindi ko sinasabi at di sinasabi din po ni Senator Bato ng ating General Bato, na ile-legal. Kalokohan po yun. Hindi kailanman male-legal ang mga drugs. Ang sinasabi po namin ay itong mga mahuhulihan ng mga konting konti ay di kailangan idiretso sa kulungan,” the senator stressed.
(Senator Bato and I are not saying that we are legalizing it. That’s foolish. We can never legalize drugs. We are saying that those caught with a small amount should not be sent directly to prison.)
Unlike critics of the proposal, Padilla said he and Dela Rosa have first-hand knowledge of what is happening inside detention cells.
Padilla spent more than two years in jail after being convicted of illegally possessing firearms in 1994. He was pardoned by former President Fidel Ramos and released in 1997.
Dela Rosa, meanwhile, headed the Bureau of Corrections after his stint as head of the Philippine National Police.
“Gusto ko lang linawin hindi po natin dito sinasabi na ang mga krimen na may kinalaman sa droga ay sila made-decriminalize. Malaki pong kalokohan yan. Ang sinasabi lang po natin possession lang ng small quantity,” Padilla said.
(We want to clarify that drug-related crimes will not be decriminalized. That’s a big lie. What we are saying is the possession of a small quantity of (drugs])
Padilla said he decided to speak up and defend Dela Rosa because he could not sit idly while the latter was being criticized over his bill.
His only request to colleagues who may disagree with the proposal: “Magpagawa kayo ng kulungan.”
“Hindi po pwedeng ganito sitwasyon natin, isang selda na ang dapat laman na 40 ay 100 ang laman,” he said.