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Villanueva to destroy more drug evidence

Wilkins M. Villanueva
PDEA chair, Director General Wilkins M. Villanueva

PHILIPPINE Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chair, Director General Wilkins M. Villanueva yesterday vowed to destroy all seized drugs under their custody in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to prevent confiscated drugs from being recycled and resold back on the streets.

On Thursday, Duterte led the ceremonial destruction of over P7.5 billion worth of shabu and other prohibited drugs seized by government agents in a special facility in Trece Martirez City, Cavite.

“Majority of the burned shabu weighing 240 kilograms, were seized during a controlled delivery operation in Cabanatuan City last October 30, 2020. Two Chinese nationals were arrested as a result of the operation,” Villanueva said.

Duterte called on law enforcement authorities and the country’s prosecutors to keep the flames burning in their war on drugs amid the new normal brought by COVID-19 when he spoke during the destruction of the seized drugs.

In his speech before top officials of the PDEA and Philippine National Police chief, General Debold M. Sinas, Duterte told the country’s law enforcers and prosecutors to “never waver” in the fight against illegal drug trafficking and abuse despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The President said drug traffickers “do not cease in their criminal activities” despite the pandemic and thus, law enforcers and prosecutors must ‘remain steadfast in our campaign not only by intensifying our operations against drug trafficking, but also by reforming our criminal justice system and addressing the root causes of drug use and dependency.”

According to Villanueva, the President led the destruction of ₱7,510,840,985.32 worth of dangerous drugs at the Integrated Waste Management, Inc. (IWMI) in Barangay Aguado, Trece Martirez City, Cavite.

The PDEA chief said the activity was made in compliance with the requirements of the law on the custody and disposition of seized dangerous drugs, chemicals and laboratory equipment.

“More importantly, the destruction was in response to the President’s directive to immediately destroy all shabu evidence, residual or otherwise, to avoid recycling,” Villanueva said.

Destroyed through thermal decomposition were a total of 1,333.09 kilograms and 5,936.70 milliliters of assorted pieces of drug evidence composed of methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu; liquid shabu; marijuana; liquid marijuana; cocaine; methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), or popularly known as ecstasy; meth+ephedrine; ephedrine; dextropropoxyphene; diazepam; ketamine; meth+piperonal; cocaine+MDMA; benzylpiperazine; gamma butyrolactone (GBL); P2P; safrole; and toluene.

Based on the consolidated report of the PDEA Laboratory Service, destroyed were:

• 1,075,678.73 grams of shabu worth ₱7,314,615,343.60;

• 3,505.50 ml. of liquid meth (HCI) worth ₱7,151,220.00;

• 282.50 ml. of liquid marijuana worth ₱33,900.00;

• 247,975.71 grams of marijuana worth ₱29,757,085.68;

• 18,179.86 grams of cocaine worth ₱96,353,258;

• 763.61 grams of MDMA worth ₱5,234,423.39;

• 6.62 grams of meth+ephedrine worth ₱39,058.00;

• 11,522.10 grams of ephedrine worth ₱57,610,500.00;

• 6.20 grams of diazepam worth ₱480.50;

• 1.70 grams of ketamine worth ₱8,500.00;

• 11.50 grams of meth+piperonal ₱3,412.50;

• 5.45 grams of cocaine+MDMA worth ₱33,119.65;

• 0.57 gram of benzylpiperazine worth ₱684.00;

• 970 ml. of GBL;

• 92 ml of P2P;

• 36 ml of safrole;

• 12 ml of toluene; and

• 6 grams of dextropropoxyphene

Thermal decomposition, or thermolysis, is the method of decomposition or breaking down of chemicals by heat. At 1,000 degrees centigrade, all dangerous drugs are totally decomposed or broken down.

It was the second time PDEA responded to the President’s call to destroy all drug evidence. Last October 15, the PDEA spearheaded the destruction of ₱6.2B worth of dangerous drugs at the same Cavite facility.

Last August 21, Villanueva also led the PDEA in destroying ₱13.36 billion worth of dangerous drugs, making it the largest in terms of volume and value in the country’s history of drug law enforcement.

According to Villanueva, PDEA is duty bound to destroy confiscated drug evidence in accordance with the dictum of the law. “Yes, there will always be challenges but the rule of law should be followed at all times,” he said.

After the filing of the criminal case, the court has, within 72 hours, to conduct an ocular inspection of the confiscated drug evidence. Within 24 hours after the court inspection, the court, through the PDEA, shall proceed with the destruction.

“PDEA is deeply honored by the President’s presence in the destruction activity. It speaks volume about his commitment and dedication to solve the country’s drug problem once and for all,” the PDEA chief said.

Duterte ordered the immediate destruction of all drug evidence confiscated by the PDEA and other law enforcement agencies led by the PNP citing Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 which requires the destruction of seized drug evidence within 24-hours after they are inspected by court officials.

Villanueva sought the assistance of the Department of Justice in order to comply with the Presidential directive to speed up the issuance of court orders that will authorize PDEA to destroyed seized prohibited drugs.

The official said the Duterte government’s all-out war on drugs which began in July 2016 has already resulted in the seizure of P56.26 billion worth of prohibited drugs, more than 90 percent of them shabu or the so-called ‘poor man’s cocaine’ which remains the number 1 abused drug in the country.

Citing the latest statistics from #RealNumbersPh, the PDEA chief said that from July 1, 2016 to last October 31, law enforcement agents led by the PDEA and the Philippine National Police have seized P56.26 billion worth of shabu, its chemical precursors and essential chemicals, laboratory equipment and other drugs like cocaine, the designer drug called ‘Ecstasy’ and marijuana.

Villanueva said that the period also saw the dismantling of 631 drug dens and 17 clandestine shabu laboratories.

The official said a total of 5,942 armed drug offenders were killed in gunbattles with undercover officers during the period which also saw the arrest of 266,126 suspects for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 following the conduct of 183,525 anti-narcotics operations.

The PDEA remains as the lead agency in the enforcement of the country’s anti-drug law. It is getting major help from the PNP headed by Sinas who has ordered an intensified crackdown against illegal drug trafficking and abuse, even authorizing all PNP National Operational Support Units to conduct their own campaign against big-time drug traffickers or those selling a kilo of shabu or more in coordination with the PNP Drug Enforcement Group headed by Brigadier Gen. Ronald O. Lee and the PDEA.