A measure aimed at penalizing owners and operators of warehouses used as laboratories and storage houses of illegal drugs is now being pushed at the Senate.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 1225 seeking to amend Section 8 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Gatchalian came up with the proposed measure following the recent discovery of P1 billion worth of shabu at a warehouse in Malabon City.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency officials said the seizure of illegal drugs in Malabon is connected to the agency’s operation in Dasmariñas, Cavite on Feb. 13 where 36 kilos of shabu worth P244 million were seized and another operation in Tanza, Cavite on Feb. 3 where 274 kilos of shabu worth P1.9 billion were confiscated.
In May 2017, government agents also raided two warehouses in Valenzuela City where they seized more than 600 kilos of shabu worth P3 billion.
Under Gatchalian’s proposal, owners or lessors of houses, buildings, warehouses, or any edifice utilized as storage facilities or laboratories for the manufacture of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors, or essential chemicals face the penalty of imprisonment ranging from 12 years and one day to 20 years, and a fine from P100,000 to P500,000.
“This bill is another weapon in the government’s arsenal in the anti-drug campaign,” Gatchalian said.
“It seeks to place the onus on the property owner or lessor to ensure that his property and premises are not utilized as a clandestine laboratory for the manufacturing or storage of dangerous drugs or chemicals used as raw materials for these banned substances,” he added.
The lawmaker said under the bill, the maximum penalty shall be imposed upon the owner, lessor, or person having the authority to lease the property, if such person had prior knowledge that the property and its premises will be utilized to manufacture or store dangerous drugs.
If the property subject of the lease is government-owned, government officials or employees who fail to observe the requirement of diligent inspection mandated under the bill shall be subjected to absolute perpetual disqualification from public office in addition to the maximum penalty that can be imposed.
If the property subject of lease is owned by a partnership, corporation, association or any juridical entity, the person liable under the law shall be the partner, president, director, manager, trustee, estate executor or administrator, or their duly authorized representative.
“With the passage of this bill, it is expected that owners will be more circumspect in leasing their properties because of the liability they will face under the law. Drug manufacturing activities should be abated under this initiative,” Gatchalian said.