NEW Philippine National Police guidelines in the investigation, documentation and filing of charges for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 will help score more drug convictions for the Duterte government and most importantly, prevent drug acquittals on grounds of technicality or due to bungling investigators and witnesses, officials said yesterday.
Recently, the PNP leadership hailed the conviction of Canadian Jeremy Harold Arthur Eaton in a record-breaking prosecution time of just three months. However, the conviction of Eaton was literally overshadowed by the acquittal of a co-accused of the Canadian, Australian national Damian Berg.
Berg was acquitted after a Makati judge ruled that police made up evidence, the decision coming in the wake of the PP leadership’s reminder on their lawyers to see to it that the charges they will file won’t be dismissed for technicality.
Last year, the PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management then headed by Director Benjamin B. Magalong released new guidelines to ensure that the PNP will score more drug convictions in the future.
“The DIDM Directive prescribed the additional responsibilities of the Chief of Police, the Chief of the Investigation Office and the Investigator-on-Case in the preparation of affidavits, evidence and other documents required in the filing of cases for violation of RA 9165,” said Magalong, former PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief and now PNP Deputy Chief for Operations.
The DIDM recommendations were approved by the PP leadership to ensure that there will be an increased PNP conviction rate when it comes to drug-related cases particularly those filed by the different provincial, municipal, city and station levels.
The DIDM recommendations will be essential in convicting the nearly 29,000 known drug personalities arrested by PNP agents across the country since Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa ordered the conduct of the PNP Project: Double Barrel last July 1. Since that day, nearly 1,600 armed drug dealers have been killed in gunbattles with the police in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.
Thirteen policemen and three Armed Forces personnel have also been killed while fighting heavily-armed drug dealers. Another 40 policemen and eight soldiers were also wounded during the period.
According to Magalong, for the year 2014 alone, a total of 18,886 anti-drug operations were conducted nationwide resulting in the arrest of 24,515 suspects. Of this figure, he said that 8,865 cases for violation of RA 9165 were referred to the Prosecutor’s Office, 9,305 were filed in various courts and 716 were under investigation.
Alarmingly, a review of dismissed drug cases conducted by the PNP-DIDM showed that a total of 1,538 RA 9165 cases had been dismissed by the courts as of last August 5. The dismissal of the cases were attributed to the following procedural irregularities: ‘planting’ of evidence/fabrication, chain of custody, failure to attend court hearings, inconsistent testimonies, failure of the prosecution to present evidence/failure to prosecute, insufficiency of evidence, inadmissibility of evidence due to illegal warrant served, search and seizure.
“Hence, illicit drug trafficking continues to be a perennial problem wreaking havoc on the society,” said Magalong.
The DIDM chief said the following guidelines shall be followed in the implementation of the latest PNP directive:
First, in the preparation of the Affidavit of Arrest to be executed by the Arresting Officer, the Investigator-on-Case shall certify in the lower portion of the affidavit that he has examined and reviewed its contents and has guided the affiant in its preparation.
Second, the Chief of Police will issue a certification that he has examined all the documents and other pieces of evidence pertaining to the case before its filing with the Office of the Public Prosecutor or with the Regular Court. This certification shall form part of the Case Folder.
Third, in the event that a drug-related case is dismissed or the accused is Released for Further Investigation, the Chief of Police, the Investigator-on-Case and the Arresting Officer will be subjected for investigation to determine if there have been irregularities or lapses in the preparation of documents pertaining to the filing of the RA 9165 case.
Last but not the least, in Metro Manila, all drug complaints prior to filing shall be reviewed and examined by the Legal Officers of the District Offices. A certification shall be issued to this effect and copies of the certification will be gathered by the Regional DIDM to be submitted to the PNP-DIDM office in Camp Crame.