CALOOCAN: SHABU PEDDLER GETS LIFE TERM FOR SELLING 0.1 GRAM

Caloocan City, July 18, 2003 By Jerry Botial (Star) A Caloocan City Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge yesterday sentenced to life imprisonment a man for selling a mere 0.1 gram of shabu but sees the present law is really harsh.

RTC Judge Myrna Dimaranan-Vidal (Branch 127) said Alquin Pagaspas, 25, married, of 19 Malaya street, Maypajo, Caloocan City was guilty of drug trafficking beyond reasonable doubt, but also urged Congress to review what she saw as "inherent weaknesses" of the law.

In this connection, she also asked the Congressional Oversight Committee to study, looking at this particular case, a perceived violation of the constitutional requirement of "equivalence" between the degree of the offense and the degree of the penalty.

Dura lex, sed lex. The law is harsh but it is the law so, regardless of the quantity involved, "in view of the national policy against the offense because of its pernicious effect to the public and the national security, among others, such penalty without any distinction as to the weight of the illegal drug involved, appears to be violative of the constitutional requirement of "equivalence," Dimaranan-Vidal said.

Dimaranan-Vidal said she has sent a copy of this decision to the congressional committee on dangerous drugs. She said she asked the committee "to determine the inherent weaknesses of the law and recommend the necessary legislation or executive measures," for its (committee’s) information and whatever appropriate action it may deem proper to take under the premises."

In her 14-page decision, Dimaranan-Vidal also ordered Pagaspas to pay a fine of P500,000.

"Sadly, under the present setup, a big-time drug lord who sold hundreds of kilos of dangerous drugs or even larger quantities of unimaginable proportions will be given the same penalty as small-time street peddlers. It seems violative of the constitution," the judge said.

At around 4:20 a.m. of Sept. 12, 2002, anti-drugs operatives collared Pagaspas for allegedly selling 0.10 grams (worth P100) of shabu to police poseur-buyer P03 Rodrigo Antonio in a buy-bust operation. Pagaspas, when arraigned, pleaded not guilty.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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