MANILA – Philippine National Police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar on Sunday said the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) are seeking clearance from concerned courts for the immediate destruction of the more than PHP5.5 billion worth of shabu seized in the separate operations in three provinces last week.
“In coordination with the PDEA which is the lead agency in the operations in Zambales, Bataan and Cavite, we will seek clearance from various courts concerned for the immediate destruction of the more or less 809 kilos of shabu confiscated in these operations,” Eleazar said in a statement.
Eleazar said he had already tasked the PNP Legal Service to assist the PNP Drug Enforcement Group (PDEG) and other drug enforcement units in preparing the necessary documents to ask all courts concerned for the immediate destruction of not only the shabu seized in Zambales, Bataan and Cavite but also other illegal drugs confiscated in other police-initiated operations.
“Ito ay batay na rin sa kautusan ng ating Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na sa lalong madaling panahon ay masira na ang mga iligal na drogang ito upang maiwasan ang mga alegasyon at mga haka-haka ng drug recycling, kahit pa nga malabo nang magyari ito dahil sa mas pinahigpit pang mga patakaran ukol sa chain of custody (This is based on the President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive that these illegal drugs will be destroyed the soonest to avoid speculations of drug recycling, even if it is inconceivable that it will happen due to tightened chain of custody rules),” he said.
The immediate destruction of illegal drugs is stipulated in the Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which provides that “after the filing of the criminal case, the Court shall, within 72 hours, conduct an ocular inspection” of the confiscated, seized illegal drugs or precursor chemicals and “through the PDEA shall within 24 hours thereafter proceed with the destruction or burning of the same”, provided, that a representative sample, duly weighed and recorded is retained.
Eleazar said they will also take advantage of the memorandum circular issued by the Supreme Court (SC) last year which reminded the courts nationwide to expedite the destruction of illegal drugs seized in various operations.
The SC circular reminds all Regional Trial Courts to “strictly comply” with the requirements of Section 21 (4) of Republic Act 9165 on the immediate destruction of illegal drugs confiscated during police operations.
The same memorandum circular also advised lower courts to prioritize issuance of destruction orders of seized drugs amounting to five kilograms or more within 24 hours “in cases where the illegal drugs seized are physically brought to the court.”
The confiscated 809 kilograms of shabu in Zambales, Bataan and Cavite, with the street value of more than PHP5.5 billion, are the biggest drug haul so far this year.
“Tinitiyak ko sa ating mga kababayan na fully-accounted ang mga nakumpiskang mga droga sa lahat ng operasyong ginawa naming ng PDEA at ginagawa na naming ang lahat ng legal na paraan upang masira na ito in the soonest possible time (I assure the public that the confiscated drugs have been fully-accounted for in all the operations we have carried out with the PDEA and that we are already taking all legal means to destroy it the soonest possible time),” Eleazar said.
Government anti-narcotic operatives seized PHP1.5 billion worth of suspected shabu in separate buy-bust operations in the cities of Imus and Bacoor in Cavite on Sept. 9 or three days after the confiscation of PHP4 billion worth of suspected shabu in Zambales and Bataan.
“Even in the time of the pandemic, these illegal drug traffickers are continuously operating. That is why we also have to step up, and our strong points in these operations are the good coordination and interoperability of five law enforcement agencies led by PDEA under our whole-of-government approach against illegal drugs,” he said.
Aside from the PNP and the PDEA, the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, and the Bureau of Customs also took part in these operations.
The successful anti-illegal drug operations in the past five years have already resulted in an unprecedented 64 percent reduction in crime in the country, Eleazar said.
He vowed to further step up the campaign against illegal drugs through strong coordination and a good working relationship with other government agencies.
In his prerecorded Talk to the People aired Saturday morning, Duterte renewed his commitment to continue his relentless campaign against rampant narcotics trade.
“Hindi ako nagbibiro kung sinasabi ko na natatakot ako sa anong mangyari ng bayan ko pagka hindi maghinto talaga itong pasok ng droga (I am not joking when I say I’m afraid of what might happen to the country if the illegal drug trade continues). It would require more than just double of what we are doing now to (cope with) the widespread importation or the presence of whatever drugs in the country,” he said.
Duterte expressed dismay that despite his repeated warnings against drug personalities, billions of pesos worth of shabu have been recovered in separate buy-busts.
“Bilyones na kasi ngayon eh (Nowadays, the seized illegal drugs are worth billions). You would notice that it is seldom mentioned that the drugs are worth about so many millions. Billions na ngayon ang pinag-uusapan (We are now talking about billions of pesos),” he said.
Duterte said he would have wanted to spare the lives of drug offenders but noted that they were killed because they were armed and resisting arrest.
“I would have wanted to spare your (life), especially in front of your family, ‘yung mga nangamatay pero (those who have died, but) I have to do it to impress upon everybody the severity of the consequence kung magsalubong tayo (if there’s resistance),” he said.
Duterte said he would do his best to stop Filipino drug addicts from going “crazy permanently” and turning into “inutile citizens of the country.” (PNA)