• Bill on death penalty for foreign nationals in drug-related crimes approved by House committee

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    The House Committee on Dangerous Drugs has endorsed for plenary passage of the proposed statute providing that foreign nationals caught violating Philippine laws be convicted and meted the harshest penalties, including death, that their countries’ laws impose.

    “The committee approved the bill to deter foreign nationals from engaging in drug-related activities in the country,” Committee Chairman Vicente “Varf” Belmonte said in Committee Report No. 58 on HB 1213.

    The Committee-approved bill mandates the imposition of the penalty for drug offenses as prescribed under the national law of the foreign national or the penalty under R.A. 9165, whichever is higher.

    “While there is no reason to question the laws of foreign countries, we must ensure that our countrymen do not suffer the short end of the stick,” author Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) stressed.

    HB 1213 or “An Act adopting the higher prescribed penalty, including death, of the national law of an alien found guilty of trafficking dangerous drugs and other similar substances, amending for the purpose R.A. No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002” is co-authored by Rep. Maximo Rodriguez (Partylist, Abante Mindanao).

    During the bill’s public hearings, the authors also noted arguments against R.A. 9346 which abolished the death penalty in the country, saying many foreign nationals were emboldened to establish their drug factories in the Philippines.

    “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,” they pointed out.

    The authors also cited constant reports of foreign nationals, including Chinese nationals, being caught selling drugs and operating drug dens and laboratories in the Philippine. And once caught and convicted, the penalty that our courts could impose is only life imprisonment.

    “This is a sad, or even unfair situation, because when Filipinos are caught drug trafficking abroad, they may be meted the death penalty, as seen in the most recent execution of the three Filipinos in China, namely Elizabeth Batain, 38 years old, Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, 32, and Ramon Credo, 42,” the authors said.

    Just last July 3, 2013, Rodriguez recalled, a 35-year-old Filipina was executed despite pleas from the Philippine government. She was caught on January 25, 2011 with 6.198 kilos of heroin in her luggage at the Hangzhou International Airport and was sentenced to death in 2011.

    “While the rationale for the passage of R.A. 9346 (abolition of the death penalty) is very clear and noble, there are some sectors of society who believe that this law is not just and equitable because while foreigners may not be executed in the Philippines for drug trafficking, Filipinos who commit the same are executed in other jurisdictions,” they argued.

    It may be noted that HB 1213 was originally introduced as HB 4510 by the same authors during the 15th Congress and was passed by the House of Representatives and transmitted to the Senate where it died a natural death.

    Section 1 of HB 1213 states that: “If the violator of any of the provisions of this Act is alien, the penalty to be imposed shall be the penalty prescribed by the alien’s national law for the act committed or the penalty prescribed by this Act, whichever is higher: Provided, that if the act committed is not punishable in the alien’s national law, then the provisions of this Act shall apply.”

    Furthermore, the said Section states that: “Where the death penalty is not imposed by the national law of the offender, for the unlawful act committed, any alien who violates such provisions of this Act, after service of sentence, be deported immediately without further proceedings.

    “The penalty of death, if applicable, shall be imposed despite the prohibition of the imposition of the death penalty in the Philippines,” HB 1213 mandates. PNA

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