The Philippines' House of Representatives. (Photo by Jire Carreon)
The Lower House of the Philippine Congress has passed a bill sanctioning the death penalty for anyone caught in possession of illegal drugs at parties.
The proposed law, an amendment to the country's "Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002," was unanimously approved by the 172 member House of Representatives.
The bill states that "any person found possessing any dangerous drugs during a party, or at a social gathering or meeting ... shall suffer the penalty of life imprisonment to death."
Violators may also be subjected to a fine of between (US$9,550) 500,000 pesos to 10 million pesos "regardless of the quantity and purity of such dangerous drugs."
The bill also seeks to ensure that professional and non-professional Filipino athletes, in any kind of sport, are drug-free, by stipulating mandatory drug testing twice a year.
Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, said the death penalty provision would only be imposed once the country’s ban on the death penalty is lifted.
In March 2017, the House passed a bill seeking to re-impose capital punishment for heinous drug-related offenses.
The Senate, however, rejected it.
Senate president Vicente Sotto III earlier said that reinstating capital punishment would have a better chance of acceptance from the Senate if it targeted drug lords.
The Philippines first abolished the death penalty in 1987, the first Asian country to do so. But in 1992, capital punishment was restored.
However, on June 24, 2006, then-president Gloria Arroyo abolished it again.
When President Rodrigo Duterte took power in 2016, he asked Congress to prioritize a bill to bring back the death penalty for heinous crimes.
The crimes included rape and murder, as well as drug related offenses such as the import, sale, and manufacture of narcotics.
A study by pollster Social Weather Stations in October showed that nearly six out of 10 Filipinos would support reinstating the death penalty for heinous crimes.