MANILA -- Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday said illegal drugs confiscated during anti-narcotics operations should be destroyed as soon as possible to prevent the “recycling” of shabu by rogue law enforcers.
In a radio interview, Sotto said the recycling of seized illegal drugs by so-called “ninja cops” is made possible because the drugs are kept in storage for a long time.
“Kung ang tinatanong yung mga nahuhuli at hindi maubos-ubos, kasi nade-delay talaga sila doon sa instruction na sinasabi, sapagkat kailangang sinusunod yung may court order. Pero maliwanag ito sa batas, kukuha ka lang ng sample, ng sampler mo, quantity, quality, and then destroy na,” the Senate leader said.
(If you are asking why there are a lot of seizures but the supply does not run out, it is due to the delay in complying with the instructions, because a court order is needed. But the law is clear, you only need to get a sample - quantity, quality and then destroy it already.)
Sotto was referring to Section 21 of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which tackles the “custody and disposition of confiscated, seized, and/or surrendered dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment.”
Section 21.4 states that the court, after the filing of a criminal case, is required to conduct an ocular inspection of the evidence within 72 hours.
Afterward, the court through the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) shall proceed with the destruction or burning or disposal of evidence within 24 hours.
But prior to their destruction, Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Regulation 1 series of 2002 provides that representative samples of the evidence shall be taken and duly weighed and recorded by the forensic laboratory, which conducted the examination, for presentation as evidence in the trial court.
“Destroy evidence, dahil kakainin ng dagang may dalawang paa (because it will be eaten by rats with two feet).…. Nasa kamay nila yan, sino ang hahabol sa kanila kung titirahin nila yun? (It is in their custody, who will prevent them from taking it)?,” Sotto said.
He said it was for this reason why seized illegal drugs were immediately destroyed during his stint as the chairman of the DDB.
“Nung DDB chair ako, destroy nang destroy yun (When I was DDB chair, it was 'destroy and destroy'),” Sotto said.
Sotto’s statements were made after President Rodrigo Duterte slammed the continuing practice of recycling seized illegal drugs by “crooked cops.”
In a speech Tuesday, Duterte said police officers engaged in the practice should be "killed."
The continuing existence of drug recycling by corrupt cops was first bared by PDEA chief Aaron Aquino, who alleged that a suspected female drug lord was reportedly buying confiscated drugs from law enforcement agencies.
However, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said incidents of drug recycling were "rare and usually done by few rotten, rogue, misfit cops only."
Banac also urged the public to report to authorities any illegal actions committed by cops. (PNA)