House forms TWG to merge 4 bills boosting anti-drug drive

MANILA The House of Representatives' dangerous drugs committee has formed a technical working group (TWG) to consolidate four measures, all of which are aimed at boosting the government's campaign against illegal drugs.

The TWG is tasked to draft a substitute bill for House Bills 4659, 4671, 4728, and 6984.

HB 4659, authored by Buhay Partylist Rep. Michael Velarde, seeks to amend the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act by expanding the coverage of authorized drug testing to include other drugs such as "party drugs" that current tests cannot detect.

Velarde said the present coverage of mandatory drug testing limits the administration's anti-drug campaign, noting that it fails to cover the recent trends in the drug trade.

HB 4671, authored by Bataan Rep. Jose Enrique Garcia III, also seeks to amend the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act to further expedite the disposition of judicial cases involving violations of the said act.

Garcia noted that the "exceedingly slow grind" of the wheels of justice and the perceived lack of vigor and dedication in the prosecution of drug cases hinder the campaign against illegal drugs from completely succeeding.

He said courts usually take three years to decide on drug-related cases despite the law requirement that the trial must be ended in 60 days from the date of information filing and the court decision rendered 15 days from the date of submission of the case for resolution.

Garcia proposed in his bill the designation of special courts in each judicial region, particularly in provinces and cities where drug cases comprise at least 60 percent of the total number of cases pending in the courts.

HB 4728, authored by Ako-Bicol Partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe, provides for speedy destruction of confiscated dangerous drugs as well as instruments and paraphernalia.

Batocabe said the proposed law prevents the incidence of seized illegal drugs being recycled or resold.

"Seized illegal drugs should be immediately disposed or destroyed so that they do not pose as temptation to well-meaning police officers," Batocabe said.

The bill seeks to allow the admissibility of authenticated and dated photographs of seized dangerous drugs, as well as instruments or paraphernalia and laboratory equipment, without the need to present the actual objects.

HB 6984, authored by Abra Rep. Joseph Bernos, seeks to institutionalize the automatic rehabilitation of arrested drug dependent persons.

Bernos stressed the need to use the rehabilitation facilities to address drug dependence as a health problem and veer away the users from further dependence through holistic approaches provided by the rehab centers.

"It is hoped that through this bill, the use of jails and correctional facilities of the state will be streamlined, and to complement the 'stick' approach of threat and punishment of the government with a 'carrot' approach of rehabilitation and treatment," Bernos said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency