THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police are ensuring the quality preservation of all recovered pieces of drug evidence valued at billions of pesos and are seeing to it that they will be immediately destroyed on court orders, officials said yesterday.
According to PDEA Director General Isidro S. Lapeña, the destruction of dangerous drugs is in compliance with Section 21 Article II of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1 Series of 2002.
Last February, the PDEA destroyed nearly P480 million worth of confiscated drug evidence that is no longer needed as evidence in court. In July 2016, the PDEA also destroyed an estimated P1.77 billion worth of seized drugs at the Integrated Waste Management Inc. in Barangay Aguado, Trece Martirez City in Cavite.
Under RA 9165, the PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for proper disposition.
The law says that within 24 hours upon seizure of dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment, the same shall be submitted to the PDEA Forensic Laboratory for a qualitative and quantitative examination.
Both the PDEA and the PNP and other law enforcement agencies are ensuring that there will be no rogues in their respective organizations who will be involved in so-called ‘planting’ or pilferage and recycling of seized dangerous drugs.
The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million, in addition to absolute perpetual disqualification from any public office, shall be imposed upon any public officer or employee who misappropriates, misapplies or fails to account for confiscated, seized or surrendered dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment including the proceeds or properties obtained from the unlawful acts as provided for in the Act.
Any elective local or national official found to have benefited from the proceeds of the trafficking of dangerous drugs as prescribed in RA 9165, or have received any financial or material contributions or donations from natural or juridical persons found guilty of trafficking dangerous drugs, shall be removed from office and perpetually disqualified from holding any elective or appointive positions in the government, its divisions, subdivisions, and intermediaries, including government-owned or --controlled corporations.
On the other hand, Section 28 of RA 9165 states the ‘criminal Liability of Government Officials and Employees.’ The maximum penalties of the unlawful acts provided shall be imposed, in addition to absolute perpetual disqualification from any public office, if those found guilty are government officials and employees.
Section 29 of RA 9165 meanwhile refers to the ‘Criminal Liability for Planting of Evidence.’ The law says that ‘any person who is found guilty of “planting” any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical, regardless of quantity and purity, shall suffer the penalty of death.
An official of the PNP Crime Laboratory, Superintendent Victor Drapete said almost one ton of illegal drugs seized by PNP agents since 1977 are being stored at the Crime Lab depository room which has been built to ensure that there will be no possibility of theft or pilferage.
The PNP Crime Lab is also ensuring that entry into the drug evidence room is properly documented 24/7. “We are accounting our drugs monthly. The volume now is almost one ton in one evidence room storage where some of our inventory started since 1977,” Drapete said.
He said the bulk of the illegal substances in the Crime Lab storage room is shabu while the rest include heroin and ecstasy. They also include equipment and other paraphernalia found inside secret shabu laboratories and storage houses smashed by government agents.
Drapete explained that the PNP cannot immediately burned the drug evidence since they have to comply with provisions of RA 9165 which also mandate the presentation of the drug evidence to court.
PNP spokesman, Chief Supt. Dionardo B. Carlos said police cannot dispose of the illegal drugs on its own in the absence of any court order. “We rely so much on the order of the court. Hindi puwedeng manira lang ng ebidensiya without orders from the court,” the official said.
As practiced, seized drug evidence are being destroyed through thermal decomposition, described as a process by which various compounds are broken down into single units by application of heat wherein reconstruction of the substance is impossible.
Both Lapeña and PNP chief, Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa said they are seeing to it that drug evidence will be burned immediately as soon as the court orders it to prevent the possibility that they may be ‘recycled’ by some rogues in the government.