Anti-drugs law too harsh; its amendment in order

The recent release of former Rep. Ronald Singson from a Hong Kong prison after serving sentence for dangerous drugs possession provides a stark contrast between the laws of the Philippines and those of Hong Kong. Singson was released after spending only 18 months in prison. In the Philippines, illegal possession of shabu weighing less than five grams is punishable by imprisonment from 12 years and one day to 20 years; if the quantity is more than 10 grams but less than 50 grams, the penalty is life imprisonment.

Because of the harshness of the Philippine law on dangerous drugs, thousands of young Filipinos are languishing in jail. Indeed, it has not been shown that the harshness of the law has served as an effective deterrent to drug-related crimes. More pathetic is that most of these drug convicts are first offenders and belong to the youth sector.

Since the passage of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act (Republic Act 9165), there has been an increasing court backlog of drug cases due notably to the fact that plea bargain are no longer allowed and there are not enough public lawyers, private lawyers and forensic chemists to testify before the courts on the results of examinations done on confiscated drugs.

It is high time we took a second hard look at low-risk, non-violent drug offenders involving mostly young Filipinos.

1. Plea bargain and probation must be allowed in cases involving youthful offenders, 18 to 30 years old, and those arrested for possession of “minimal quantity” of drugs.

2. The procedure for availing voluntary treatment and rehabilitation must be simplified.

3. The harsh penalties for possession of a minimal quantity of drugs must be eliminated by introducing shorter and lighter penalties and fines in consonance with the latest trend in the United States.

4. Introduce measures for a more effective probation supervision and mandatory drug treatment programs.

The foregoing proposals will go a long way in decongesting our prisons and will give young offenders, who constitute the bulk of detention prisoners, a new lease on life. As Chief Justice Earl Warren once said: “Once a boy has a crime record, his opportunities for success are 76 percent and he loses 90 percent of his self-respect. Those are hard odds to fight against.”

Indeed, it is now imperative to explore and adopt a sensible, cost-effective approach to the dangerous drugs menace in our country. It is always emotionally wrenching whenever a judge sentences a young Filipino to life imprisonment for the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs weighing 10 grams.


executive judge,

Regional Trial Court,

Hall of Justice, Roxas City

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=23047

Tags: Anti-Drugs law , Illegal drugs , laws , Prison , Rep. Ronald Singson

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Healing priest invites political leaders to join ‘prayer for nation’
  • Tagle: Christ’s resurrection a message of hope to faithful
  • Aquino vows to intensify anti-corruption drive further
  • Unease in Vatican over cardinal’s luxury flat—report
  • Nepal calls off search for missing guides on Everest—official
  • Sports

  • Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters
  • Rain or Shine grabs No.4, sends Ginebra to 8th
  • Red-hot Alaska rips injury-depleted San Mig Coffee
  • Pacquiao courtesy call to Aquino set for Monday
  • Nick Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk
  • Lifestyle

  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Korean animation comes of age
  • Kristo gathers 100 artists
  • Entertainment

  • Easter musings
  • Solenn in shorts
  • Unmerry mix of attention-calling moves on ‘Mini-Me’ TV tilts
  • Persistence pays off for The 1975
  • Special section in LA fest for Filipino films
  • Business

  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Golden Week
  • Bourse to woo Cebu stock mart investors
  • Supper power
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Aquino, Obama to tackle US pivot to Asia during state visit
  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Marketplace