By Jeffrey Damicog
Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta has lauded the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) to remain firm in allowing plea bargains in illegal drugs cases.
“We are very happy we can now move for the rehabilitation of the 82,000 inmates contaminated of illegal/regulated drugs prior to plea bargaining,” she said.
“The 10,000 capacity rehabilitation facility in Nueva Ecija can now be filled up with positively identified contaminated inmates,” she added.
PAO records showed that as of last year, there were more than 82,000 small time drug offenders languishing in jails all over the country.
The SC on Tuesday declared as final its August 15 decision which ruled that Section 23 of Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which prohibits plea bargaining in drug cases “as unconstitutional for being contrary to the rule-making authority of the Court.”
The high tribunal denied for lack of merit the motion for reconsideration of Judge Frank Lobrigo of Lagaspi City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 3 who sought the reversal of the decision.
The SC acted on the petition filed by the PAO on behalf of drug accused Salvador Estipona who was caught in possession of .084 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as shabu.
Estipona had been charged with violation of Section 11, Article 2 of RA 9165 which is pending before Lobrigo.
The PAO was forced to file the petition after Lobrigo denied Estipona’s motion for plea bargaining.
Plea bargaining is “a process of negotiation between the prosecution and the defense in a criminal case whereby the accused – in return for leniency or a lighter sentence – agrees to plead guilty to a lesser offense.”
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