De La Rosa, Padilla defends bill decriminalizing use of illegal drugs
Senators Ronald De La Rosa and Robin Padilla on Tuesday defended a bill seeking to decriminalize the use of illegal drugs, saying that drug users should be treated as victims, not criminals.
De la Rosa, who heads the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, said the goal of his bill was to help drug users who are mere victims. It is not contrary to his previous role in implementing the previous administration’s controversial drug war.
“I don’t see any contradiction. We implemented the drug war to save innocent lives, right? Now, the purpose of decriminalizing drug use is to reform the drug users as victims. We consider them as victims,” De la Rosa told reporters.
De la Rosa said that the bill on decriminalizing drug use also aims to decongest jails that are filled with drug offenders by sending them to rehabilitation centers.
The bill would include building more rehabilitation centers in every region, he added.
De la Rosa added that the drug problem should not be simply treated as a “law enforcement problem” but also as a “health problem,”.
However, he said he was conflicted on whether he should continue pushing for the decriminalization of drug use as this could worsen the problem.
“I’m having second thoughts on whether to push through with that amendment. Do we want to increase the number of drug addicts? Worsen the drug problem? What if people will say that it happened because of the Bato Law on decriminalizing drug use?” De la Rosa said.
On Padilla’s proposal to decriminalize possession of illegal drugs which are less than one gram, De La Rosa said: “What if the person possessing less than 1 gram is actually a pusher? It’s like we are expanding the offenses to be decriminalized. From mere use, we also included possession. That may be just one gram of drugs but if many people are holding one gram many lives will be destroyed.”
For his part, Padilla said it was not fair to treat mere drug addicts the same as drug users who have committed other crimes.
“Does that mean that if you are a drug offender, you will allow yourself to be treated like a criminal? Like a drug addict who murdered someone or raped someone? Where is the justice in that?” Padilla said at a press briefing.
Padilla said they only want to decriminalize drug use and the possession of illegal drugs in small amounts, not related crimes.
“I just want to clarify that we are not decriminalizing crimes related to illegal drugs. That’s foolishness. We are just talking about the possession of drugs,” he said. Jaspearl Tan/DMS