Seized illegal drugs and bundles of marked money. (File photo)
MANILA – Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive for all law enforcement agencies to destroy all confiscated illegal drugs by next week.
Drilon, author of the provision in the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 that mandates the immediate destruction of confiscated illegal drugs, said it is about time that the three branches of government plug the loopholes in the implementation of Section 21 of Republic Act 9165.
“Given what we have seen in the past as disturbing cases of recycling of billions worth of shabu by so-called ninja cops, it is about time that the three branches of government act as one in plugging the loopholes in the implementation of the law” Drilon said in a press release issued on Tuesday.
In his televised weekly Talk to the People on Monday night, Duterte directed all law enforcement agencies to destroy seized illegal drugs including shabu by next week.
“I want all the shabu, residual or otherwise, however minimal, destroy the whole of it by next week. You have so many days to do it, one week. Do it in one week. Destroy and get specimen,” Duterte said.
Duterte said destroying the recovered prohibited drugs would prevent the recycling and reselling in the illegal drugs market.
“So we can more or less improve things, better protect the Filipino people, by doing a concerted action, immediately after, just a few, I hope the Supreme Court will agree with me, just a few days after they should be destroyed and be accounted for accurately,” Duterte said.
Each year, Drilon would question the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the judiciary for failing to immediately destroy confiscated contrabands. His constant criticisms paved the way for the issuance of Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) Circular No. 118-2020 this year, which requires judges to strictly comply with the procedure outlined in Sec. 21 of RA 9165. The Circular further advises judges to prioritize seized dangerous drugs amounting to five kilograms or more.
Drilon said RA 9165 is clear and precise as to when seized illegal drugs should be destroyed but the implementing agencies simply disobeyed the law.
“The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 strictly mandates that the court should conduct an ocular inspection of confiscated, seized and/or surrendered dangerous drugs and paraphernalia within 72 hours and subsequently within 24 hours, the PDEA should proceed with the destruction of the seized evidence,” the former justice secretary explained.
However, the said provision is not being followed with the PDEA putting the blame on the failure of the judges to issue the order to destroy them, Drilon noted.
The PDEA admitted that there are still in their possession illegal drugs seized as far back as 2010.
“These inexcusable delays give rise to the cases of recycled seized illegal drugs in the country and undermine the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs,” Drilon said.
Drilon said the courts indeed play a crucial role in the timely destruction of the confiscated dangerous substances, and ultimately in preventing the possible recycling of the illegal substances.
“With the President’s directive and the OCA circular that requires judges to strictly comply with the procedure outlined in Sec. 21 of RA 9165, we should proceed with the burning of all seized illegal drugs to avoid recycling and diversion,” Drilon said.
The PDEA cannot also cite that they would need the seized contrabands as evidence, he added, saying that only a representative sample is required by law as evidence in court.
Under Section 21 (5) of RA 9165, the “Board (Dangerous Drugs Board) shall then issue a sworn certification as to the fact of destruction or burning of the subject item/s which, together with the representative sample/s in the custody of the PDEA, shall be submitted to the court having jurisdiction over the case. In all instances, the representative sample/s shall be kept to a minimum quantity as determined by the Board.” (PNA)