By Mara Cepeda - Rappler,
The House of Representatives passed a bill providing for legal presumption on who is considered an importer, financier, or protector of illegal drugs – meaning suspects would be presumed guilty upon apprehension.
On Tuesday, March 2, lawmakers approved on final reading House Bill (HB) No 7814, which aimed to give more teeth to Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
A total of 188 legislators – a majority of whom are allies of President Rodrigo Duterte – voted in favor of HB 7814, while only 11 voted no and 9 abstained.
The Duterte-controlled House approved the bill just days after the shootout between agents of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency – the vanguards of Duterte’s landmark but deadly campaign against illegal drugs.
Most of the House members who opposed the bill or abstained from the vote raised red flags over the HB 7814’s provisions that presumes the guilt of drug suspects without proper investigation by law enforcement agents.
House committee on human rights chair Jesus “Bong” Suntay voted against the bill since it contained 20 presumptions of guilt on drug-related criminal acts that would result to a penalty of life imprisonment.