From 12 years to 6 months: Small time drug cases get plea bargains

Lian Buan
But those caught selling and trading over 1 gram of shabu and over 10 grams of marijuana will not be entitled to plea bargain deals

MANILA, Philippines – Small time drug personalities will now be able to get plea bargain deals for a chance to significantly cut their jail times and do their penance by rehabilitation instead.

The Supreme Court (SC) ordered on April 10 the adoption of a framework for plea bargain deals in drug cases, which was previously prohibited by the Dangerous Drugs Act or Republic Act 9165. A copy of the notice was was released just recently.

The SC declared Section 23 of RA 9165 unconstitutional as it granted the petition of Salvador Estipona of Legazpi City, who wanted to enter into a plea bargain after he was caught with 0.084 grams of shabu.

From now on, those caught with possession of small quantities of shabu, marijuana et al will be allowed to plead guilty to a lesser offense of possession of paraphernalia. 

For example, possession of up to 4.99 grams of shabu, opium, morphine, heroin and cocaine, and up to 299.99 grams of marijuana which usually have a penalty of 12 years to 20 years imprisonment, can now be converted via plea bargaining to possession of paraphernalia which is penalized by only 6 months to 4 years in jail.

Possession of above 10 grams of shabu, opium, morphine, heroin and cocaine, and above 500 grams of marijuana will have no plea bargaining.

The SC was less tolerant on drug trading or selling. Only very small quantities are allowed plea bargain deals under the framework.

Those caught selling or trading up to 0.99 grams of shabu and up to 9.99 grams of marijuana will also be allowed to enter into a plea bargain deal. What was ordinarily punished by lifetime imprisonment will be penalized under the plea bargain agreement by only 6 months to 4 years in prison.

But those caught selling and trading over 1 gram of shabu and over 10 grams of marijuana will not be entitled to plea bargain deals.

This will have a significant impact on the rights of small time drug personalities, who will now be given a chance to reform, especially under the context of the administration’s brutal war on drugs.

It is also expected to decongest Philippine jails and declog court dockets.

Read the entire framework below:

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.