HLAF in partnership with BJMPRO-NCR organized the 2nd Quarter Jail Paralegal Officers' (JPO) Kumustahan at BJMPRO-NCR which gathered speakers from the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Public Attorneys' Office (PAO) Calabarzon to discuss plea bargaining as a mode of release in drug cases under RA 9165 based from the offices’ lens last July 18, 2018.
“Take this opportunity to learn. Ito na ang pagkakataon niyo para madagdagan pa ang karunungan para ang ating trabaho ay mapabuti natin at ang ating pong kliyente ay talaga pong makakabenefit dito sa program na ito.” Assistant Regional Director for Administration BJMP – NCR, S/SUPT Millet G. Batac, said during the opening remarks of the Kumustahan. He also noted that in behalf of the Regional Director, Chief Superintendent Ignacio S. Panti, he extended his thanks to the continuous commencement of the JPO Kumustahan.
Regional Public Attorney from PAO CALABARZON, Atty. Howard B. Areza, started the discussion on plea bargaining as a mode of release in drugs cases under RA 9165. He mentioned that for year 2017, the PAO has extended free legal services 11,616,916 clients. It handled 906,251 cases, with 76.13% favorable dispositions (in criminal cases). It carries out its mandate through its legal aid measures through judicial and non-judicial services. Atty. Areza then discussed judicial services and non-judicial services. Also, the beneficiaries that PAO is able to help are PWDs, senior citizens, land-based OFWs, sea-based OFWs, indigenous group, rape victims, those who are involved in Anti-Trafficking and agrarian cases, Anti-Torture and Human Security Act cases, and refugees/evacuees. He then proceeded with discussing the provisions and what is mandated to PAO under the RA 9406.
The discussion was the followed by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor from DOJ, DOJ Prosecutor Rassendell Rey Gingoyon, regarding plea bargaining. He remarked that plea bargaining is not a novel idea. He also mentioned that zccording to Section 2, Rule 116 of the Rules of Court, to plead guilty of a lesser defense - plea bargaining is whereby the accused. It usually involves the defendant’s pleading guilty. Multi-indictment in return of a lighter sentence. At the Department of Justice, we are amenable. It was already part of the Rules of Court. It states specifically under Section. Prosecutor Gingoyon then noted that’s the slight problem lies. The law enacted by Congress? Or the Rules of Court enacted by the Supreme Court. “We believe that it is the duty of the DOJ to protect the interest of the State.” Prosecutor Gingoyon said.
Dra. Leila Celino from DOH started her discussion by providing chronology of events on plea bargaining agreement: OCA Circular No. 09-2018 “Plea Bargaining in Drug Cases Pursuant to Estipona V. Judge Lobrigo, G.R. No. 226679, 15 August 2017”. She noted that it is an illnes. Other parts of the body will be affected. Pre-mature death. Death is possible. “I am a doctor. I was tasked to explain what’s the role of DOH when it comes to plea bargaining. Under R.A. 9165, the role of DOH is to accredit testing facilities and accredit physicians.” Dra. Celino explained. She also noted that the next steps will be 1. BJMP establish a comprehensive drug treatment service (and not transfer BJMP inmates to DOH) a. Residential treatment facility; b. Recovery homes/recovery clinic; c. Community based drug treatment program (in the context of the BJMP system), 2. Prescreening of BJMP inmates for transfer to DOH residential facilities: a. DOH team goes to BJMP facility for pre- screening; b. DOH, 3. Join the judiciary in fine tuning the transfer of plea bargaining cases and 4. Ultimately, a policy.
Chief of the Information and Welfare Desk, C/INSP. Marizen S. Sese, delivered the closing remarks by stating that despite the condition, they are all aware of the subject matters in decongestion. Topping is Novatas which has 3,825% congestion rate. She mentioned that deeper understanding with what is plea bargaining will help the jail bureau as a whole.