rep tom villarinDi dapat mauna ang karitela sa kabayo.

This was the message of Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin during the period of amendments to House Bill No. 4727, after being deliberately—albeit irresponsibly—watered down to include only drug-related crimes.

“Now that the crimes have been reduced to drug-related ones, shouldn’t the amended substitute bill be recommitted to the Committee on Dangerous Drugs?” he asked.

Villarin cited Section 28 (k) of the Rules of the House, which states that the Committee on Dangerous Drugs has authority over all “matters directly and principally relating to illegal and prohibited drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, the production, manufacture, use and trafficking thereof, as well as the rehabilitation and treatment of drug dependents.”

“Hindi dapat mauna ang karitela sa kabayo. How can we properly discuss the penalty if we won’t tackle the nature of the crimes?” the solon added.

Chemical reaction

In a statement, the Philippine Federation of Chemistry Societies (PFCS) expressed its opposition to the bill with the following points:

1. The bill does not define and identify what are precursor chemicals and essential chemicals. Virtually all precursor chemicals and essential chemicals are multi-use chemicals. Precursor chemicals may also be precursors to other important products, such as pharmaceuticals, fragrances, cosmetics, agro-chemicals, and others. Likewise, essential chemicals may also be essential for many other purposes, including household and health uses. The cost to the economy can be staggering. The proposed bill is not scientifically rational.

2. Mere possession of a precursor chemical or an essential chemical is not equivalent to possession or manufacture of dangerous drugs. The proposed bill will criminalize legitimate users, and raise the cost of goods and damage the economy. This will also provide many opportunities for corruption.

3. The bill equates pure substances with mixtures. It does not distinguish a compound that is relatively pure with its presence in an essential oil or spice at 1% composition. It will criminalize possession of many medicinal plants and cooking ingredients.

“This topic of precursor chemicals and essential chemicals should be discussed extensively together with experts in the field and with industry manufacturers,” read the statement.

“The chemists’ reaction only proves how scientifically void the death penalty bill is. The least that the House leadership can do is to hear the side of these experts in the proper forum—in a hearing under the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs,” Villarin remarked.

No compromises

Akbayan reiterates that it has always been and will always be against all forms of death penalty, for whatever crime, given that it is a retrogressive measure that offers no effective solution to the drug problem, and can even inflict more damage to society and even to the economy, at the disastrous cost of human lives.

Villarin has also previously warned against moves to "soften" the bill to cover only drug-related offenses, in an attempt for the bill to be more easily be railroaded for the whole nation to see.

“It took months for proponents to justify compelling reason by terrorizing the public with stories of rape and murder, but only a matter of minutes to remove all these crimes from the bill,” the lawmaker said.

“With no facts and all pressure, we see how legislation can be a deadly cocktail of reckless ignorance,” he added. ##