PLEA BARGAINING’S LOOPHOLE
THE growing number of former drug offenders being arrested in Dagupan City has alarmed the Dagupan Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), including members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP). Worse, many are serial offenders.
Lt. Col. Mangelen reports to city council. (Punchphoto by Butch Uka)
P/Lt. Colonel Abubakar Mangelen Jr. revealed operatives have arrested 17 persons for drugs from June 25 to July 22 and were surprised to find out these were the same persons already arrested in previous anti-drug operations.
He said he mentioned the 17 arrests when he made a courtesy call on one of the Regional Trial Court judges in Dagupan City on June 21 to cite the loophole in the plea bargaining agreement with the courts.
Under the plea bargaining agreement, provided for in a resolution of the Supreme Court, the suspect for illegal drug possession can plead for a lesser offense if the drug seized from him weighs from 0.01 to 0.0499 gram, serves a minimum jail term, pays the corresponding fine and undergoes drug rehabilitation.
Mangelen said the trend that former arrested drug offenders who availed of the plea bargaining find it convenient to return to their illegal trade is alarming both PDEA and the police.
Under the plea bargaining agreement, the offender who opted for it is released to their respective barangay officials under recognizance, to whom they must appear and report regularly.
But the offenders who avail of the agreement deliberately change their addresses and so their original barangays could no longer account for them, Mangelen said.
So far, Mangelen said there are no new faces being arrested except those who have been arrested previously.
But he said there is a downtrend in drug affectation of barangays because of tips on information on presence of drug peddlers provided by the barangay residents enabling police and PDEA to arrest the latter. (Leonardo Micua)
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