Duterte assures amendments to anti-drug law will be constitutional


President Rodrigo Duterte will make sure that the proposed amendments to Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 are constitutionally-compliant, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque gave the assurance, after human rights advocates raised worry over a House bill which presumes guilt of drug suspects until proven innocent.

In an online press conference in Cebu, Roque said Duterte would not sign into law any proposed legislative measure that could infringe the 1987 Constitution and the country’s laws.

“As an implementer of the Constitution and laws, the President will make sure that bills awaiting his signature will not violate the Constitution,” Roque said.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading a measure that aims to strengthen drug prevention and control in the country.

House Bill (HB) 7814, which introduces amendments to RA 9165, seeks to reinforce the campaign against the proliferation of dangerous drugs by providing for a legal presumption on individuals considered as importers, financiers, protectors, or coddlers of illegal drugs.

Anyone spotted in the place where the sale, trading, marketing, dispensation, and delivery or distribution of drugs happen is presumed to be involved in the illegal operation “unless proven otherwise,” according to the proposed measure.

The bill also penalizes negligent lessors whose properties are used as clandestine drug laboratories, unless they can show documents that will exempt them from liabilities.

Under HB 7814, lessors are directed to include in the lease contract a stipulation that the property being leased “will not be used for the illicit manufacture of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals in violation of this act.”

Amnesty International, in a statement issued Wednesday, said the measure showed a “dangerous disregard for human rights guaranteed under domestic and international law.”

Roque said the Palace respects lawmakers’ right to pass measures deemed beneficial to the country.

“We respect the prerogative of our legislators to enact law because that’s their job,” he said.

He said the executive branch would also await the final version of the proposed bill.

“That’s not yet a law. It’s just a proposed measure until the Senate passes its version of the bill,” Roque said in Filipino. “Let’s just await the final version of the bill.”

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