House passes 'Early Years Act of 2011', amendments to Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002

October 20, 2011 9:56 pm 

MANILA, Oct. 20 — The House of Representatives has recently approved on third and final reading two important measures — amendments to Republic Act 8980 otherwise known as "An Act Promulgating a Comprehensive Policy and a National System for Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD)," and Section 21 of Republic Act 9165 or the "Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002."

House Bill 5246 authored by Sorsogon Rep. Salvador Escudero III, chairman of the House committee on basic education and culture, seeks to expand and improve the comprehensive early childhood care and education program especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

"The measure aims to promote the rights of children to survival, development and special protection as well as support parents in their roles as primary caregivers and as their children’s first teachers," he said.

Escudero said the government shall institutionalize a National System for Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) that is comprehensive, integrative and sustainable that involves multi-sectoral and inter-agency collaboration at the national and local levels.

"Government should collaborate with service providers, families and communities, public and private sectors, non-government organizations, professional associations and academic institutions to implement social development programs that provide for the basic holistic needs of young children from zero to age six and promote their optimum growth and development," he said.

The Sorsogon lawmaker said the System shall promote the inclusion of children with special needs and advocate respect for cultural and linguistic diversity.

It shall also be anchored on complementary strategies for ECCD that include service delivery for children below zero to age six, educating parents and caregivers, encouraging the active involvement of parents and communities in ECCD programs, raising awareness on the important efforts that improve the quality of life for young children and families.

Escudero said the bill also mandates the ECCD Council to provide the full range of health, nutrition, early education and social services programs for the child’s holistic development.

The measure seeks to amend Republic Act 8980 otherwise known as "An Act Promulgating a Comprehensive Policy and a National System for Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD)."

On the other hand, House Bill 4660, authored by Iligan City Rep. Vicente Belmonte, Jr., seeks to amend Section 21 of Republic Act 9165 or the "Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002."

Belmonte said the bill seeks to dismiss drug cases due to the failure of law enforcers to follow the stringent requirements of Section 21 of RA 9165, which deals with custody and disposition of confiscated, seized, and surrendered dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments or paraphernalia.

Under RA 9165, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for proper disposition.

"In order for the government to pursue an intensive and unrelenting campaign against the trafficking and use of dangerous drugs and other similar substances, it is imperative that Section 21 (of RA 9165) be amended," he said.

Belmonte said from 2003 to June 2010, the total seizures of dangerous drugs, controlled chemicals and laboratory equipment amounted to P76.62 billion, while seized dangerous drugs can be quantified in terms of monetary value amounting to billions of pesos.

He, however, said the potential damage to the socio-economic, political and cultural foundations of the country can never be measured.

Belmonte noted that from 1999 to December 2010, the conviction rate was only 7.3 percent or 8,063 out of 110,494 drug cases filed.

Reasons for acquittal/dismissal include irregularity/illegality of arrest; search and seizure; reasonable doubt; insufficiency of evidence; inconsistencies in testimony; filing of wrong information; non-coordination with the PDEA; failure to present vital witnesses and failure to observe Section 21 of RA 9165, he said.

Belmonte said the bill seeks to strengthen the anti-drug campaign by amending the procedure for the custody and disposition of dangerous drugs and penalizing the possession controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments or paraphernalia and laboratory equipment used in the manufacture of dangerous drugs.

Under the bill, the inventory of seized items shall be witnessed by any one of the required representatives from media, Department of Justice (DoJ) or an elected public official.

The bill also mandates the conduct of physical inventory of seized items at the place where the search warrant is served or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is more practicable.

Belmonte said the bill renders the seizures and custody over said items valid, as long as the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved.

He said restriction for the issuance of certifications of forensic laboratory examinations within 24 hours is removed under the proposed amendments. (PNA)

LDV/LGI/mec

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