THE Department of Justice (DOJ) has said it will prioritize the resolution of cases related to illegal drugs.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he will be issuing a memorandum tasking all government prosecutors to give priority to resolving cases in connection with illegal drugs.
This is expected to pave the way for completing the requirement under the law and result in the immediate destruction of all illegal drugs that have been confiscated during operations.
“In accordance with the President’s directive, the Department of Justice (DOJ) will issue a memo circular to all prosecutors investigating drug cases to give top priority to the resolution of the same, to file the informations ASAP, and to move for a court order to conduct an ocular inspection of and destroy the seized drugs, precursors, within the time specified in RA (Republic Act) 9165,” Guevarra said in a statement.
The memo, apparently, is an offshoot of a pronouncement made by President Rodrigo Duterte, saying he wants all confiscated illegal drugs destroyed by next week, so as to ensure that they are not recycled or found back in the illegal market.
According to Guevarra, the President’s directive is pursuant to Section 21(4) of RA 9165, mandating trial courts to conduct an ocular inspection of illegal drugs and paraphernalia seized, within 72 hours, after criminal charges have been filed.
Accordingly too, the confiscated illegal drugs and paraphernalia ought to be destroyed within 24 hours following the inspection.
Under the law, only samples of illegal drugs confiscated are needed to be presented in the courts during trial.
Thus, law enforcement agents must file the criminal complaints immediately so that the destruction of the seized drugs could proceed as early as possible.
It will be recalled that last July, no less than the Supreme Court (SC) itself directed all judges of lower courts to immediately conduct an inspection of confiscated illegal drugs and for the said drugs used as evidence to be destroyed within 72 hours, following the filing of appropriate criminal charges in court.
Not that we are accusing our law enforcement of anything. But I’m pretty sure there are many doubting Thomases out there.
There should be a way to check if the illegal drugs that would be destroyed are exactly the ones that were seized during the operations from where they were seized and not mere ‘look-alikes’ or replicas.
And granting too that the illegal drugs were authentic, the quantity must also be checked as against the report at the time of the seizure.
The fact that no less than President Duterte has raised the possibility of these illegal drugs finding their way back into the market means that it is not remote.
The amount of time that passes while the seized illegal drugs are being merely kept in custody while awaiting destruction leaves so much room for temptation and the possibility of them either being stolen or replaced with mere replica, like crushed ‘tawas’ or flour or anything that may resemble shabu and cocaine.
The President and Sec. Guevarra are correct in wanting the immediate destruction of the confiscated illegal drugs. This will ensure that recycling will not happen as we all know this had happened in the past, although we cannot say for certain that it is no longer happening now.
I would like to believe that majority of our policemen are still righteous. Giving the unscrupulous ones the opportunity to recycle these illegal drugs that have been seized as a result of painstaking efforts will put to naught the fact that the ones who carried out the operations risked their very lives for it.
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