Tuesday, February 10, 2015

PH Drug Laws, Drug Abuse, Drug Trafficking and Rehabilitation

By Gemma Hunt

The Comprehensive Drug Act of 2002 sought to significantly reduce the drug trade and by extension the abuse of drugs in the Philippines. The Act which is frequently referred to as the Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165 mandates the maximum sentence of life imprisonment to death and fines ranging from 500,000 to 10mn Pesos penalty for dealing in drugs.1 

Section 11 or Article 11 of R.A. No 9165 also provides information on the minimum amounts to which the penalties are applied.Ibid Possession of 500 grams of marijuana, ten grams of cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, morphine and opium is a pathway to death. However, it only takes 50 grams of the very popular methamphetamine, widely known to Filipinos as “shabu” to incur the death penalty.Ibid

The basis for the Act and the draconian penalty was the rise in the rate of drug abuse and drug trafficking in the Philippines. The government realized the urgency of pursuing an intensive and unrelenting war against drug traffickers and drug abusers at different levels.2 

The drug courier problem has increased significantly over the last 20 years. This figures provided by PDEA indicate that there were arrests of two persons in 1993. That figure has increased to 710 at present of which 265 are males and 445 females.3 The figure represents a 335% increase in arrests. Of the arrested couriers in the Philippines, the percentage of arrests for “shabu” was the greatest as it accounted for 81% of all arrests.Ibid Cocaine and heroin were the other drugs with percentage arrests of 18% and 1% respectively.Ibid 

Creation of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency

The Act which became effective in July 2002 also sought to ensure that the laws are effectively and efficiently enforced. The creation of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) meant a bold step in that direction. The role of the PDEA is to supervise and support the agencies, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Office of the President. These were the institutions which previously had the responsibility of enforcing the law before the passing of R.A. No. 9165. 

In 2014 the R.A. 10640 amended R.A. 9165. The amendment is expected to increase the rate of convictions from the current 75% to 100%.4 That is the new target for the Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF), an arm of the PNP.Ibid The dismissal of between 20 and 30% of all cases due to various technicalities prompted authorities to make changes.Ibid The changes require a police to be the complainant.

The authorities expect that the new laws will strengthen the Government’s anti-drug campaign. The amendment to Section 21 of R.A. 9165 now allows for performance of the physical inventory of drugs and materials at the nearest police station. Performance at a government facility deemed practical for the purpose is also permitted. R.A. 9165 only permitted the performance of the Physical inventory at the site of the drug find.5

Drug laws are never enough as no system is fool-proof. A study done by the Dangerous Drug Board (DDB) in 1999 indicated that there were approximately 3.4mn drug abusers in the country.6 When one considers that figure from a population of approximately 75 million, it is rather high. The figures suggest that approximately five of every ten Filipino were drug abusers. The DDB launched several initiatives to counter the problem.Ibid The expectation is that the initiatives will place a major dent in the demand for illegal drugs.

Demand Reduction Initiative

The DDB has taken the lead role in a three pronged demand reduction initiative.Ibid The first prong involves the Departments of Education, Labour and Education and several other agencies, including the PDEA along with the media.Ibid It aims to prevent non-users from getting involved in drug use.Ibid

The second prong aims to stop casual drug users and those who have been experimenting from going further. Ibid The Department of Health (DOH) plays the lead role. Ibid However, DOH has the support of local government, the PNP and the Department of Social Work and Community Development. Ibid 

The third prong focuses on addicts and those who are in the rehabilitating process. Ibid This is the most difficult phase and the Department of Health is also the leader. Ibid The law enforcement agencies such as the PDEA as well as local government units and non-governmental organizations lend their support in this area. Ibid

The matter of treatment and rehabilitation has several steps including a drug dependency examination (DDE).7 Only a DOH accredited Physician can perform a DDE. Ibid Police and RTC clearance is also required. Ibid Additionally, if the drug dependent is a minor with a pending case, a Certificate of Suspended Sentence should be sought from the relevant RTC. Ibid  After completing the above steps the drug dependent or family member can decide on the facility for treatment. Ibid 


1.         The LawPhil Project. Republic Act No. 9165. Accessed November 24, 2014 http://lawphil.net/statutes/repacts/ra2002/ra_9165_2002.html  
2.         PDEA.gov. Laws and Regulations. Accessed November 24, 2014 http://pdea.gov.ph/laws-and-regulations
3.         PDEA.gov. Drug Couriers. Accessed November 24, 2014 http://pdea.gov.ph/drug-trends/drug-courier 
4.         Enquirer.net. High conviction rate of drug cases seen with new law. Accessed November 24, 2014 http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/626229/high-conviction-rate-of-drugs-cases-seen-with-new-law
5.         PDEA.Gov. Republic Act No. 10640. Accessed November 24, 2014  http://pdea.gov.ph/laws-and-regulations/ra-10640 
6.         Banaag, Cornelio G and Daiwey, Edwin. Drug Abuse among Filipinos: The Situation. Accessed November 24, 2014 http://www.mentorfoundation.org/pdfs/prevention_perspectives/1.pdf
7.         DDB.gov. Treatment and Rehabilitation. Accessed November 24, 2014

No comments: