Plea Bargaining Framework in Drugs Cases (A.M. No. 18-03-16-SC)

A.M. No. 18-03-16-SC (Adoption of the Plea Bargaining Framework in Drugs Cases). — On August 15, 2017, an En Banc Decision in G.R. No. 226679 — Salvador Estipona, Jr. vs. Hon. Frank E. Lobrigo was rendered whereby Section 23 of Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, was declared unconstitutional for being contrary to the rule-making authority of the Supreme Court under Section 5 (5), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution;

On April 3, 2018, the Court En Banc deliberated upon and discussed Administrative Matter No. 18-03-16-SC regarding the Suggested Plea Bargaining Framework submitted by the Philippine Judges Association;

On April 5, 2018, Justice Diosdado M. Peralta met with the Officers of the Philippine Judges Association, namely: Hon. Felix P. Reyes (President), Hon. Frank E. Lobrigo (Senior Vice-President), Hon. Francisco P. Felizmenio (VP Legal), Hon. Maria Paz R. Reyes-Yson (Secretary General), Hon. Divina Gracia L. PeliƱo and Hon. Racquelen A. Vasquez (Presidential Advisers), to discuss the revisions on the plea bargaining framework, which was made simpler and easier to understand, and addressed the concerns raised in the En Banc Agenda of April 3, 2018;

On April 6, 2018, a revised plea bargaining framework, which is more simplified, incorporated therein the suggestions of the members of the En Banc and were submitted and, on April 10, 2018, was further deliberated upon and, thereafter, the En Banc approved the same with modifications containing the suggested revision of Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. regarding exception to probation of offenses involving illegal drug-trafficking or pushing under Section 5 in relation to Section 24 of R.A. No. 9165, and the suggestion of Associate Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro to make clearer the non-applicability of plea bargaining in cases where the penalty is life imprisonment or life imprisonment to death;

NOW, THEREFORE, the Supreme Court hereby orders the adoption of the Plea Bargaining Framework in Drugs Cases, as follows:
In all other cases where the imposable penalty is life imprisonment or life imprisonment to death, plea bargaining is not allowed. Plea bargaining is also not allowed under Section 5 (Sale, Trading, etc. of Dangerous Drugs) involving all other kinds of dangerous drugs, except shabu and marijuana.

The Office of the Court Administrator is DIRECTED to ISSUE a Circular for dissemination to all concerned.