Press Release
January 25, 2016

January 25, 2016

Magandang Umaga po sa inyong lahat.

As Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, I would like to call this public hearing to order. Today's hearing is jointly called with the Committees on National Defense and Security, Constitutional Amendments and Revisions of Codes and Justice and Human Rights.

There are two main topics to be discussed in this public hearing: 1) the legislation that would authorize the wire-tapping, interception and recording of communications in dangerous drugs cases and 2) the re-assessment and updating of the existing Anti-Hazing Law. The two main issues are covered by nine (9) bills and legislative proposals in the Senate, authored separately by (on the Wire Tapping) - Senator Honasan and myself and the House version authored by Representatives Belmonte Ferrer, et. al and (on the Anti-Hazing Law) - by Senators Sotto, Honasan, Defensor-Santiago, Ejercito, Legarda and the House version authored by Representative Sherwin Gatchalian.

Of significance, the House of Representatives has approved the two policy measures and thus, we are conducting this hearing to finalize the corresponding Committee Reports for the legislation.

First Agenda: Proposed Wire-Tapping Law.

According to the latest report of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), an estimated 1.7 million Filipinos are hooked on drugs, representing a 200,000 increase from the number of drug users two (2) years ago. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that in 2011 ,the Philippines had the highest abuse rate for methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu in East Asia. Although the local manufacture of methamphetamine hydrochloride has reportedly gone down following successful raids on shabu laboratories, enforcement agencies have noted a trend of African shabu being smuggled into the country for the local drug trade and trans-shipment to other countries.

The government, particularly the PDEA and DDB, has embarked on unrelenting campaigns against the trafficking and use of dangerous drugs yet their distribution and use appear to be as persistent as the effort to check them. It will take more than the present methods to address the drug trade which has assumed global proportions and now poses a threat to national security. We need to upgrade our counter-measures against this global menace.

In other countries, wire-tapping has been used to solve major crimes such as terrorism and drug trafficking. Wiretapping has helped established the flow of drugs and the structure of syndicates and how they are managed from the source to the market. The heads of syndicate and financiers are not exposed during criminal activity. It is not easy to prove their participation in trade, but recorded conversations can established their involvement. It is in this context that we have the various legislation filed on authorizing wire-tapping and interception of communications involving illegal drugs.

Second Topic: Proposed Anti-Hazing Law:

There are allegations that Republic Act No. 8049, more commonly known as "The Anti-Hazing Law," has not been effective in stopping fraternities, sororities, and other organizations from hazing their neophytes. Since RA 8049 was enacted in 1995, several neophytes attempting to join fraternities, sororities, or organizations in various schools have incurred injuries or died during dangerous and unregulated initiation rites.

We call today's public hearing to posit from concerned and various sectors the need for the amendment or repeal of the law. Accordingly, RA 8049 merely seeks to regulate hazing when it should be banned outright. Anything less than the express prohibition and criminalization of hazing is not enough. Is this really the situation? How is the Anti-Hazing Law being implemented? The Committees need to be apprised of the mechanisms to prevent senseless death resulting from bloody initiations and similar activities.

The various proposed legislation at hand seek to prohibit hazing once and for all while further mandating the registration of all organizations with their host institutions or universities and colleges to allow for more efficient and effective enforcement of the Anti-Hazing Law. In the words of its main author, "any quest for justice that treats justice as an end rather than a means becomes a petty quest for vengeance rather than a vehicle for reform."

Our people, families, and youth have long suffered from these twin issues of illegal drugs and hazing activities, it is time to address them with justice and might.

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