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Penalize owners of warehouses used as illegal drug dens

VALENZUELA CITY, Philippines – A personnel carries a container of chemicals at a facility accredited by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PEDEA) to destroy substances confiscated from its various operatives, during a media presentation in this 14 Jan. 2011 file image. Senator Win Gatchalian is seeking to amend the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 to include penalizing owners of warehouses used as laboratories and storage in the manufacturing and distribution of illegal drugs. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing for the passage of a bill penalizing owners of warehouses used as laboratories and storage in the manufacturing and distribution of illegal drugs, following the seizure of ₱1 billion worth of shabu from a warehouse in Malabon City.

Senate Bill No. 1225, filed by Gatchalian, seeks to amend Section 8 of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Under the bill, 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 ₱100,000.00 to ₱500,000.00.

“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.”

The lawmaker said that 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.

Moreover, Gatchalian said that 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 imposable.

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,” Gatchalian said. “Drug manufacturing activities should be abated under this initiative.”