printer-outline Printer friendly version
ID: HR23-754
Presenting author: MARY KATHRYN SISON

Presenting author biography:

Ms. Mary Kathryn "Karry" Sison is a practicing lawyer. She is involved in a number of advocacy campaigns as a member of the Free Legal Assistance Group and its Anti-death Penalty Task Force, the managing trustee of the Center for Liberalism and Democracy, and a trustee of StreetLaw PH.

PLEA-BARGAINING FOR DRUG CASES IN THE PHILIPPINES: Revisiting Its Mechanisms, and Assessing Its Bureaucratic and Social Impacts

With the passage of Republic Act No. 9165, also known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002” on 23 January 2002, plea bargaining for drug offenses was disallowed. Section 23 of RA 9165 provides that “[a]ny person charged under any provision of this Act regardless of the imposable penalty shall not be allowed to avail of the provision on plea-bargaining.”

On 25 April 2017, fifteen years since the passage of RA 9165, the provision under Section 23 was struck down by the Court in its decision in the case of Salvador Estipona vs. Judge Lobrigo (En Banc), G.R. No. 226679, August 15, 2017. The Supreme Court declared said provision as unconstitutional.

About a year later, on 10 April 2018, the Supreme Court issued A.M. 18-03-16-SC or the Adoption of the Plea Bargaining Framework in Drug Cases. In the said issuance, the unavailability of plea bargaining was limited only to cases wherein the imposable penalty is life imprisonment (or death); and sale, trade of dangerous drugs.

Nearly five years from the time plea bargaining became available to drug offenses, cracks and gaps start to manifest, putting in question the practicality and to some, the wisdom of making plea bargaining available to those accused under RA 9165. This presentation will discuss these issues and concerns, and endeavor to come up with recommendations on possible strategies and interventions to narrow these gaps, and address concerns; thereby taking another meaningful step towards more positive and meaningful drug policy reforms.