Drugs board: Consider raves as drug dens
THE Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) has proposed that rave events be considered drug dens following the death of five concertgoers at a CloseUp Forever Summer concert that has been linked to party drugs.
During the House of Representatives hearing on Monday, DDB Assistant Secretary Benjamin Reyes urged Congress to expand the definition of drug dens under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act to include rave events and concerts as possible venues for drugs transaction.
According to Republic Act 9165, a drug den is a “place where any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical is administered, delivered, stored for illegal purposes, distributed, sold or used in any form.”
According to the law, the maintenance of a drug den, dive or resort is punishable with life imprisonment or a fine of P500,000 to P10 million.
“Section 6 of the Republic Act 9165 defines drug den resort as where any dangerous drugs used in cases of activities illegal substances used or traded specifically may be closely construed as a den,” Reyes said.
“It’s also recommended to expand the definition of drug den to include places and events when drug activity may occur,” he added.
The board also told the congressional inquiry that the hosts of the concert may be held criminally and administratively liable for the concert deaths.
At least five people collapsed in different parts of the concert grounds during the CloseUp-sponsored party held at the SM Mall of Asia on May 22. They died in hospital hours later.
Two of the victims – Bianca Fontejon, 18, and Lance Garcia, 36 – suffered massive heart attacks and internal bleeding. The autopsies on Eric Anthony Miller and Ken Migawa showed that they suffered sudden cardiac arrest.
The family of the other victim, Ariel Leal, 22, refused to have the body autopsied.
Authorities are looking at possible overdose of hybrid drugs, such as the “green amore,” or ecstasy pills laced with shabu.
Adon Gabriel, legal counsel for Unilever Philippines which owns CloseUp toothpaste, told the hearing that he personally visited the families of the five fatalities and assured them that the company would give them any form of assistance.
He declined to give details, saying that the families requested confidentiality.
Ed Sunico, spokesperson for Closeup and vice president for communications of Unilever, said a moratorium was put in place on rave events until the management determines a way to mitigate the risks.
Sunico said there were no reports of drug use in the past three CloseUp Forever Summer concerts in the last three years. He said the Pasay event was the last concert of its kind following the tragedy.
Neil Trinidad from the Marketing department of Unilever said these musical festivals aimed to gather the youth to enjoy dance music “responsibly without the use of drugs.”
Senior Superintendent Manuel Lukban, regional intelligence division chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, said the victims took the drugs prior to and not during the event.
Lukban lamented that social media were being used to peddle ecstasy pills.
“Ecstasy proliferates through the use of social media,” Lukban said.
Both CloseUp and the police washed their hands of the task of securing the inside venue of the concert grounds, saying the Activations Advertising Inc. was tapped to handle security matters inside the venue.
Lukban said the police were only asked to man the perimeter fence and not the inside grounds.
Michelle Quintana of Activations Advertising Inc. told the hearing that bouncers manning the concert grounds were only deployed as deterrents.
Quintana said the police were asked to man the concert grounds on the day of the event as discussed during their last security briefing
She said the security briefings were more concerned about the evacuation plan and not the possibility of drug use by concertgoers.
“We also told them (the police) about the possibility of drugs but then again, when we talk about these particular events, we are more concerned about crowd control … the evacuation plan in case of emergencies like earthquakes, stampedes, and also fire,” Quintana said.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has so far arrested five alleged drug dealers who were caught in a buy-bust operation at a Paranaque condominium where a kitchen lab was uncovered.
Earlier, the NBI also arrested Joshua Habalo in a buy-bust operation at the House Manila, a club inside Remington Hotel at the Resorts World Manila complex in Pasay City. Habalo was alleged to be at the event selling drugs./rga/AC
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