SC allows plea bargain in drug cases

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 04 2018 06:15 PM

A police officer lists down names of suspected drug users and pushers at a processing center in Tondo, Manila. File Photo/Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Supreme Court has adopted a new plea bargaining framework where confessed drug offenders may be meted reduced jail sentences and lower fines under several parameters. 

The framework is an offshoot of the August 15, 2017 high court ruling striking down Section 23 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which barred plea bargain deals in cases involving illegal drugs. 

The Philippine Judges Association led by its president, Judge Felix Reyes, submitted a Suggested Plea Bargaining Framework to the high court, which was subsequently adopted after several revisions. 

Under the framework, an accused may enter into a plea bargain deal with the Department of Justice once he admits to the crime. The deal, which will lower the sentence, has to be approved by the trial court. 

The approved plea bargain framework contains the following details: 

For sale, trading, administration, delivery, distribution, and transportation of ‘shabu’ and its precursors, where the quantity is .01 gram to .99 grams, the acceptable plea bargain deal is six months and a day to four years and a fine ranging from P10,000 to P50,000. 

Without any plea bargain deal, the penalty is life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million. 

Where the quantity is a gram and above, no plea bargain is allowed.

For sale, trading, administration, delivery, distribution and transportation of marijuana, where the quantity is .01 gram to 9.99 grams, the acceptable plea bargain deal is six months and a day to four years and a fine ranging from P10,000 to P50,000.

Without any plea bargain, the penalty is life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million.

Where the quantity is 10 grams of marijuana and above, no plea bargain is allowed. 

Except for ‘shabu’ and marijuana, no plea bargain is allowed when the offense is sale, trading, administration, delivery, distribution and transportation.

For possession of dangerous drugs where the quantity of ‘shabu,’ opium, morphine, heroin, or cocaine is less than five grams, the acceptable plea bargain deal is imprisonment for six months and a day to four years and a fine ranging from P10,000 to P50,000.

Without any deal, the penalty prescribed by law for this offense is 12 years and a day to 20 years and a fine ranging from P300,000 to P400,000.

For possession of the above stated dangerous drugs where the quantity of marijuana is less than 300 grams, the acceptable plea bargain deal is the same as the above offense since the penalty prescribed by law is also the same.

For possession of dangerous drugs where the quantity of ‘shabu,’ opium, morphine, heroin, or cocaine is five grams or more but not exceeding 10 grams, the acceptable plea bargain deal is 12 years and a day to 20 years and a fine ranging from P300,000 to P400,000.

Without any deal, the penalty prescribed by law for this offense is 20 years to life imprisonment and a fine ranging from P400,000 to P500,000. 

Where the quantity of the above stated dangerous drugs possessed is 10 grams and above, no plea bargain deal shall be allowed.

For possession of marijuana, where the quantity is 300 grams or more but not exceeding 500 grams, the acceptable plea bargain deal is 12 years and a day to 20 years and a fine ranging from P300,000 to P400,000. 

Without any deal, the penalty is 20 years to life imprisonment and fine ranging from P400,000 to P500,000.

Where the quantity of marijuana is 500 grams and above, no plea bargain is allowed.

For possession of equipment, apparatus and other dangerous drugs paraphernalia, the acceptable plea bargain deal is six months treatment and rehabilitation, and the subject must undergo counseling at a rehabilitation center. 

Without any deal, the penalty is imprisonment for six months and a day to four years and fine ranging from P10,000 to P50,000.

For possession of equipment, apparatus and other dangerous drugs paraphernalia during parties, social gatherings or meetings, the acceptable plea bargain deal is 6 months treatment and rehabilitation, and counseling at a rehabilitation center. 

Without any deal, the penalty is 4 years and a fine of P10,000 up to P50,000. 

The high court directed Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez to issue a circular on the new framework to all courts.