TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- A lawyer from the Department of Health (DOH) Region 02 emphasized that the Supreme Court has now allowed drug case suspects to plead guilty to a lesser offense.
Lawyer Nash Lasam was referring to a SC decision dated August 15 regarding the applicability of plea-bargaining in drug cases.
Lasam said the high court deemed unconstitutional the prohibition against plea bargaining in drug cases.
“If you plea bargain for only use, puwede po kayong magparehab kasi kung first time user po kayo ang penalty ng batas is not jailtime, [but] it’s rehabilitation of minimum of six months and maximum of one year,” the lawyer said.
Lasam said that this is leaning towards more and favorable to drug users. “We need to help them. They should know their rights so that they can plea bargain for a lesser offense,” she added.
She said the DOH can now coordinate with Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to put a drug suspect into compulsory rehab should the court qualify the suspect as a user.
“For example chinarge sayo ay possession tapos ‘pag nagplea ka for use lang tapos nag agree po yung prosecutor, okay na po yun. Guilty na, there’s no more trial, [at] pasok ka na sa rehab [na] compulsory.” she explained.
“It’s easier, it helps the accused, and it will lessen the population po doon [sa BJMP],” the lawyer added.
DOH perceives drugs as a disease and not a crime, Lasam said, and that they are willing to give drug users “a chance for a second chance.”
The health department also encouraged the public to “help” drug dependent by referring them to the agency’s Regional Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in San Antonio, City of Ilagan, Isabela.
“It’s very hard when there is a stigma when you are into rehab but I think we are promoting that it’s one step for making yourself better; and we are here to give those services to you,” she said. Northernforum.net