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Solon seeks drug law amendments

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano (Abang Lingkod) is pushing for amendments to Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, adding that there is a need to strike out the provision on the presumption of guilt.

Paduano said the Bill of Rights provides that innocence is presumed while the proposed bill attempts to shift the “Onus Probandi” or the “Burden of Proof” from state prosecutors to the accused, that he said renders it unconstitutional.

“Presumptions are established when there is a logical correlation between the fact established and the thing presumed. They are included in our criminal procedure to expedite judicial processes,” Paduano, a House minority leader, also said.

“We should favor the protection of innocent civilians against procedural expediency,” Paduano said. He pointed out that not only innocent civilians have the right to be protected, but also the hard-working prosecutors and law enforcement agents.

House Bill 7814 calls for strengthening drug prevention and control, and amendments to RA 9165.

Paduano also proposed that the preliminary investigation on drug-related cases should be concluded within seven working days.

“Undeniably, our anti-illegal drugs law is outdated,” he said, adding that it was passed when the drug problem in the country was just starting to threaten society, with the number of drug users estimated at 1.2 million in 2002, rose to 4 million in 2016, and reduced to 1.6 million in 2020, based on government data.

Paduano also expressed his support to the increase of logistical provisions under RA 9165, especially the organization and budget allocation for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, that leads the anti-drug campaign but has been plagued by lack of manpower. “There is a need to strengthen the PDEA if we want it to succeed,” he added.*

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