(Eagle News)–Senate President Tito Sotto has filed a bill seeking to allow plea bargaining agreements for “small-time” drug offenders.
In filing Senate Bill 492, Sotto noted that the country’s laws allow plea bargaining deals for violation of all criminal laws including heinous crimes except for violation of any provisions of the anti-drug law.
“Plea bargaining in these ‘small-time’ or ‘low-level’ drug cases will result in the prompt and final disposition of cases that in effect will declog the court dockets and our jails,” he added.
Under the bill, which aims to amend Section 23 of Republic Act 9165, or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, plea bargaining “may be allowed only for a person who is found to be positive for use of any dangerous drug for a second time, after a confirmatory test.”
A person who pleads guilty of possession of up to 4.99 grams of shabu, opium, morphine, heroin, cocaine and other dangerous drugs; or less than 300 grams of marijuana would be allowed to seek a plea bargaining agreement, the measure added.
Based on the measure, a person who pleads guilty of possession of dangerous drugs during parties, social gatherings or meetings, or in the proximate company of at least two persons, provided that the quantities are less than five grams of opium, morphine, heroin, cocaine or “shabu”, or other dangerous drugs; or less than 300 grams of marijuana, can also avail of the plea bargaining agreement.
The measure said the plea bargaining agreement can also be availed of by an accused who pleads guilty of possession of equipment, instrument, apparatus and other paraphernalia for dangerous drugs during parties, social gatherings or meetings, or in the proximate company of at least two persons.
The measure said this was provided that it can be proved that said possession is for his or her personal use which is in a reasonable quantity as determined by the court.
“The unparalleled number of small-time drug cases pending in courts causes burden to the country’s criminal justice system as regards to costs and efficiency in the speedy disposition of cases,” Sotto said.