De Lima proposes mandatory drug tests in prisons

Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a bill seeking a mandatory and unannounced drug tests for both prisoners and their custodians to stomp out the unabated proliferation of drug abuse and trade in the country's penal institutions.

De Lima has filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1496, also known as the Drug-Free Prisons Act of 2017, which seeks to conduct a regular drug tests in all detention facilities and penal institutions in the country.

"With this measure, it is envisioned that our detention facilities and correctional institutions shall finally be rid of the scourge of illegal drugs," she said.

When she was justice secretary, De Lima led a series of high-risk surprise inspection raids of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City after she received reports of illegal drug use and operations.

The surprise inspections resulted in the immediate dismantling of the luxurious huts of high-profile inmates, the confiscation of contrabands, and the termination of prostitution and illegal gambling operations inside the NBP.

In 2011, it may be recalled that 679 raids were conducted in the NBP that resulted in the confiscation of 1,090 prohibited items. Before she left the agency, a total of 38,832 contrabands were also confiscated under the "Oplan Galugad."

"Reports that our penal institutions are at the crux of the illegal drugs trade in the country are not new," she pointed out in her bill's explanatory note.

The Senator from Bicol, however, took issue on the admission of the present administration that illegal drug use and trade continue to flourish inside the NBP despite its much-publicized campaign to weed out drug operations.

"Barely months from taking over, inmates were found to still be able to do drug in NBP. A year after taking over, the current Secretary of Justice has admitted there has been a resurgence of the drug trade," she pointed out.

"It appears that in spite of the early pronouncements of the DOJ Secretary and the PNP Chief, the current measures being implemented are still ineffective in eradicating the drug problems in our penitentiary system," she added.

Under her proposed measure, a mandatory and unannounced drug testing shall be conducted to all detainees, prisoners and their custodians in facilities maintained by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and Bureau of Corrections, as well as the custodial centers of the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Investigation, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Once a detainee or prisoner tests positive for drug use, he shall be required to undergo a Drug Dependency Examination and be transferred to a rehabilitation facility for detainees and prisoners who use illegal drugs.

For government employees and officials in detention facilities who tested positive for drug use will also undergo a Drug Dependency Examination without prejudice to being subject to administrative and criminal sanctions.

Under SB 1496, drug tests shall be conducted at random and unannounced intervals for more than once a year. Any positive drug result shall affect any petition of a prisoner who is seeking pardon or parole.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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