MANILA, Mar 12 (Mabuhay) — A proposal to impose the severest possible punishments –including the death penalty – on foreign nationals caught trafficking illegal drugs in the Philippines is closer to becoming a law after it hurdled the committee level in the House of Representatives.
House Bill 1213, which amends Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Drugs Act of 2002, was approved last February by the House committee on dangerous drugs. The measure was authored by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and his brother, Rep. Maximo Rodriguez.
Iligan Rep. Vicente Belmonte Jr., the committee chairman, said in the House panel report that the bill was approved “to deter foreign nationals from engaging in drug-related activities in the country.”
Under the proposed measure, the death penalty, which was already abolished in the Philippines, will also be imposed on foreign drug traffickers if applicable.
The bill approved by the committee also mandates the imposition of the penalty for drug offenses as prescribed under the law of the country where the convicted foreigner comes from, or the penalty under R.A. 9165, whichever is higher.
A foreign national who has been convicted of a drug-related offense but who has not been meted out the death penalty will face immediate deportation after serving his or her prison sentence.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said in the bill’s explanatory note that Congress must ensure foreign nationals are also imposed with the same stiff penalties imposed on Filipinos caught smuggling illegal drugs abroad.
The lawmaker cited constant reports of foreigners, including Chinese nationals, being caught selling drugs and operating drug dens and laboratories in the Philippines who can only be meted out with life imprisonment by local courts for trafficking illegal drugs.
““Once convicted, these foreign nationals only suffer life imprisonment as opposed to the penalties that they suffer in their own countries which, in some cases like China, is death,” Rodriguez said.
Last July, a 35-year-old Filipina was executed in China after being convicted of drug trafficking. The woman was caught in 2011 carrying at least six kilos of heroin in her luggage at the Hangzhou International Airport.
Based on records from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the number of Filipinos detained around the world for drug-related offenses has reached 696 as of August 2013, with 212 Filipino drug couriers imprisoned in China. (MNS)