Dela Rosa: Proposal to decriminalize drug use meant to decongest jails

Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 29 2022 07:42 PM

Bibo Nueva España/Senate PRIB 
Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa on Nov. 10, 2022. Bibo Nueva España/Senate PRIB

MANILA — Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa said his bill seeking to decriminalize drug use aims to decongest jail facilities in the country.

“Naisip ko lang naman ang decriminalization dahil puno ang kulungan, dahil sa effort natin dumami ang nakakulong so naisip natin to decongest the jail,” Dela Rosa told reporters on Tuesday. 

(I just thought of decriminalization because our jails are already full. Because of our efforts, more people were jailed so we thought of decongesting the jails.)

As former President Rodrigo Duterte's first national police chief, Dela Rosa had implemented the previous administration’s war on drugs.

Though thousands were killed in the anti-narcotics campaign, Dela Rosa defended that it was not because of the "Oplan Tokhang", the "knock-and-plead" police operation that was criticized for alleged rights violations.

“Maraming namatay not because of [Oplan] Tokhang. Maraming namatay sa buy-bust operations, lumaban. Ang 'Tokhang' naman, demand reduction katukin at himukin na huminto na sa paggamit ng droga," he said.

(Many died not because of Tokhang. May died in buy-bust operations, they fought authorities. Tokhang is for demand reduction, it asks people to stop using drugs.)

Dela Rosa also expressed sympathy for drug users who, he said, were just “victims” of addiction. 

“Noong ako ang Chief PNP naawa ako sa mga taong nakakulong, natutulog na nakatayo punto presohan, anywhere in the Philippines. Nakita ko kung gaano kadami adik sa Pilipinas. Punong-puno police station, so naisip ko noon na kawawa ang mga tao, why not drug using i-decriminalize sila dahil biktima sila. Jail the pusher, save the user, and hang the trafficker dapat,” he said.

(When I was Chief PNP, I pitied those who were jailed, they were had sleep while standing because the jails were packed, anywhere in the Philippines. I saw how many drug addicts were there. The police stations were full. I thought these people were pitiful, so why not decriminalize drug use because they are also victims.)