MANILA — Sen. Grace Poe on Wednesday pushed for the passage of a bill amending Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act to strengthen the country’s fight against the drug menace and catch perpetrators.
In sponsoring committee report of Senate Bill 2273, Poe stressed three points in amending Section 21 of the law, which pertains to the preservation of evidence in seized illegal drugs.
Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, said the current law requires that inventory of seized dangerous drugs must take place at the police station.
”We proposed that this inventory must take place at the police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer or team of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency,” she said.
“Second, the current law states that a media representative, a Department of Justice (DOJ) representative, and an elected public official must be present during the inventory as witnesses. We propose that only two witnesses must be required — an elected public official and a media or DOJ representative,” Poe said.
“Third, the current law provides that non-compliance with Section 21 renders the evidence inadmissible. We propose that improper compliance or non-compliance under justifiable grounds will not render the seizure void,” the senator added.
Poe explained that the proposed amendments aim to address conflicting court decisions, citing People vs. Magat and People vs. Frondozo where non-compliance led to acquittal of the accused; and People vs. Pringas where the accused was convicted despite noncompliance with Section 21.
The senator further explained, “Compliance with the rule on witnesses during physical inventory is difficult, since media representatives are not always available, especially in remote areas. It is not easy to get local officials as witnesses. Most police stations are also far from places where suspects are apprehended.”
Poe said the drug addiction has soared to a new height, endangering the youth and destroying society.
”It’s high time to amend the law for massive campaign against illegal drugs which destroy life, creates problems among the youth, and worsens poverty,” Poe said.
Committee Report No. 45 is a consolidation of seven Senate bills authored by Sens. Poe, Vicente Sotto III, Gringo Honasan, JV Ejercito and Jinggoy Estrada. It takes into consideration the approved House version.