MUCH tougher guidelines in the investigation, documentation and filing of drug-related charges in the country are already in place to ensure that the Philippine National Police will score more convictions in the future, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
The guidelines were ironically released during the incumbency of then Police Director, now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong, the retired police general who spilled the beans on the highly-irregular Pampanga operation in 2013 where the group of then Superintendent Rodney Baloyo was accused of keeping for themselves some 200 kilograms of shabu worth nearly P1 billion, presenting only 38 kilos of the seized drugs and releasing suspected drug lord Johnson Lee after they were allegedly paid P50 million by the latter.
The PNP-DIDM Directive actually 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 Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The PNP leadership approved Magalong’s recommendation 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.
PNP chief, General Oscar D. Albayalde had made it clear that he is giving utmost priority in addressing the issue on illegal drugs and in ensuring the conviction of arrested drug personalities specifically the ‘big fishes.’
The new DIDM guidelines ensured that the Chief of Police, his Chief Investigator and the Investigator-on-Case will be fully responsible for the conviction of the suspect and prevent the possibility that anyone of them will have a hand in sabotaging the filing of case in favor of the suspect for reasons known only to them.
In 2014, official PNP records showed that a total of 18,886 anti-drug operations were conducted nationwide resulting in the arrest of 24,515 suspects. Of this figure, 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 in that same year showed that a total of 1,538 RA 9165 cases have been dismissed by the courts.
Among the grounds for 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,” Magalong, said then.
The PNP leadership ordered that the new guidelines should be followed to the hilt by all Chiefs of Police Station, City or Municipality or the Station Commanders in District Offices in Metro Manila or other Chartered Cities and Highly-Urbanized Cities and Municipalities as well as their Chief of Investigation Section/Branch/Division; their Investigator-on-Case who is duly designated to conduct the inquiry of the crime by following a systematic set of procedures and methodologies for the purpose of identifying witnesses, gathering and recovering evidence, arresting the perpetrators and filing of criminal cases; the Arresting Officer or the PNP Personnel, Barangay Official or Civilian making the arrest; the Desk Office or the Duty Police Non-Commissioned Officer in the police station detailed to receive and record complaints and reports of crime incidents and dispatches in the police blotter; and the Legal Officer or the Regional/District Legal Officer of concerned police districts in the National Capital Region Police Office.
The DIDM chief said that the following guidelines shall be followed in the implementation of the 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.