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Creation of PNP anti-illegal drug group legal

  • Written by Alfred Dalizon
  • Published in Nation
  • Read: 2628

THE Philippine National Police Legal Service (PNP-LS) has expressed strong support to a Department of Justice opinion which allows the creation of a permanent PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) to fully support the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in the all-out war against illegal drug trafficking and abuse.
   
In a February 16 letter, the PNP-LS headed by Chief Superintendent Ulysses J. Abellera said there is no legal impediment in the activation of the PNP-AIDG to be headed by a Group Director with the rank of Police Chief Superintendent to support the PDEA in enforcing Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
   
DOJ Secretary Leila M. de Lima, on July 29 last year, issued a legal opinion authorizing the PNP to create a permanent anti-illegal drugs unit that will fully complement the PDEA, the government’s lead agency in the drive versus narcotics. Sec. De Lima also reconsidered the previous DOJ Opinion No. 67 issued in 2009 and said the DOJ now allows the creation of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Unit under certain conditions moored on the coordinational requirements with PDEA.
   
De Lima said PDEA also has the discretion to take over the investigation and the PNP unit will remain under the organizational control of the Chief, PNP.
   
In its opinion, the PNPLS described as ‘legally in order’ the proposal to create a permanent PNP-AIDG. “As the DOJ have pointed out, the fact that the law intended to source the enforcement backbone of the PDEA from already existing units of the PNP, NBI and the Bureau of Customs does not necessarily mean that, henceforth, these other law enforcement agencies are already prescribed by law from creating new task forces, whether ad hoc or permanent, in fulfilling their role as  anti-illegal drugs law enforcement support network of the PDEA.
   
Even with the absorption of these original drug enforcement units into PDEA, their mother agencies did not lose the mandate of continuing with anti-illegal drugs law enforcement activities,” Abellera, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class 1984 told fellow lawyer, PNP-AIDSOTF commander, Senior Supt. Bartolome C. Tobias of PMA Class 1985.
   
He also said the proposal to create a permanent PNP-AIDG to be headed by a Chief Superintendent is ‘legally permissible.’ Indeed, if Section 86, Article IX, RA No. 6975 is read in relation to Section 84, the use of the word ‘abolished’ in the former should be properly interpreted to mean that ‘the drug enforcement units of the PNP were deemed absorbed into the PDEA” which was created by the latter provision, Abellera said.
   
Abellera also said that after closely reviewing pertinent law and jurisprudence on the matter, “we find that DOJ Opinion No. 67 interpreted Sec. 86 of RA 9165 literally as to contemplate the abolition of all drug enforcement units outside of PDEA and thereafter prohibiting the creation of such units outside of PDEA, even if the same provision is susceptible to an alternative interpretation, especially in light of the practical need for operational flexibility not only of the PDEA, but of all illegal drugs law enforcement agencies, including the PNP.”
   
Following the line of reasoning in the DOJ legal opinion, he said that the Narcotics Unit constituted under RA No. 6975 was never abolished, hence, it did not cease to exist. “At best, it merely ceased to function as the drug enforcement unit of the PNP. It was the AIDSOTF, created by virtue of EO No. 218 dated June 18, 2003, that functioned as the drug enforcement unit of the PNP. Today, the AIDSOTF may be set up by the PNP as a permanent police unit,” he said.
   
The DOJ earlier stated that there is nothing in RA 9165 that prohibits the PNP from setting up a permanent Narcotics Investigation and Monitoring Center (NIMC) for which reason, it found ‘no legal impediment to the creation of the proposed PNP-NMIC.’
   
Notably, Sections 86 and 84, Article IX, RA No. 9165 did not expressly repeal Section 35(b) (8), RA No. 6975 which legally created the Narcotics Unit. This being so, the following mandate of Section 35 (b) (6) RA No. 6975 is still applicable, he said.
   
Abellera also cited Sec. 36 of RA 9165 which states that ‘the PNP shall be supported by administrative and operational support units and the operational support units shall be composed of Narcotics Unit headed by a Director with the rank of Chief Superintendent which shall enforce all laws relative to the protection of the citizenry against dangerous drugs and other prohibited substances.
   
“It will definitely boost the morale of our officers and men,” Tobias said of De Lima’s decision. At present, the PNP-AIDSOTF remains the main anti-narcotics unit of the PNP which has been behind the neutralization of dozens of major drug syndicates run by foreigners particularly Chinese nationals and their Filipino contacts and the seizure of billions of pesos worth of shabu and its main precursors and other manufacturing equipment.