MANILA -- The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Wednesday issued guidelines on the proper handling of apprehended illegal drugs.

Memorandum 2017-11-004, signed by Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña, aims to establish proper protocols for the handling of dangerous drugs (DD) and controlled precursors and essential chemicals (CPECs) within the jurisdiction of the bureau.

Under the order, all suspected DD and/or CPECs discovered by way of regular course of work at the BOC should be immediately reported to the Customs Anti-Illegal Drugs Task Force (CAIDTF) for proper coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

"All shipments found to contain DD and/or CPECs within the jurisdiction of the BOC and intended for controlled delivery, the PDEA shall be the lead agency," the memo said.

Lapena, who was former PDEA chief, said that the apprehending officer must follow the law stated in RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

"To avoid glitch in drug operations, make way and let PDEA stand in front because when it comes to drugs, they know better," the customs chief said in a statement.

It can be recalled the former Customs Chief Nicanor Faeldon and other BOC employees faced simultaneous Congress and Senate investigations on the alleged mishandling of the 605-kilo methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) from China.

"Ignorance of the law excuses no one. Let us follow the law and the proper protocol. However, let me also urge our BOC operatives to be always on tight guard so that we can suppress all drug importations right at the port of entry," he said.

PDEA is the agency responsible in filing criminal and civil cases related to drugs for violation of RA 9165 while BOC in filing criminal and civil cases arising from violation of RA 10863 or Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. (PNA)