De Lima wants drug tests in jails

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DETAINED Sen. Leila de Lima has sought “mandatory and unannounced” drug tests for both prisoners and their custodians to put a stop to the reported unabated drug abuse in penal institutions nationwide.

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The senator filed Senate Bill 1496 or the “Drug-Free Prisons Act of 2017” that seeks to conduct regular drug tests in all detention facilities nationwide, including the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.

“With this measure, it is envisioned that our detention facilities and correctional institutions shall finally be rid of the scourge of illegal drugs,” de Lima, who is detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center on drug charges, said.

“Reports that our penal institutions are at the crux of the illegal drugs trade in the country are not new,” she added.

She deplored the admission of the Duterte administration that illegal drug use and trade continue to flourish inside the national penitentiary despite its campaign to weed out drug operations at the NBP.

“Barely months from taking over, inmates were found to still be able to do drugs in NBP. A year after taking over, the current justice secretary (Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd) has admitted there has been a resurgence of the drug trade,” she said.

“It appears that in spite of the early pronouncements of the DoJ Secretary and the PNP Chief (Ronald de la Rosa), the current measures being implemented are still ineffective in eradicating the drug problems in our penitentiary system,” De Lima said.

Under SB 1496, mandatory and unannounced drug tests will be conducted on all detainees, prisoners and their custodians in facilities maintained by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and the Bureau of Corrections, as well as the custodial centers of the PNP, National 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,” De Lima said.

She said that government employees and officials assigned in detention facilities who will found positive for drug use will also undergo a drug dependency examination “without prejudice” to being subjected to administrative and criminal sanctions.

BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO

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