SC okays rules on disposal, destruction of seized drugs

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    THE Supreme Court has approved rules on the destruction and disposal of illegal drugs confiscated by law enforcement authorities, prior to the formal filing of case before the court.

    The rules will take effect on March 16.

    The Philippine National Police last year said prompt destruction and disposal of confiscated illegal drugs will free up its evidence rooms while Malacañang said a prompt disposal would prevent the illegal substance from falling into the hands of unscrupulous individuals or groups.

    Under the recently-approved rules (Rule on the Destruction and Disposal of Seized Dangerous Drugs, Other Substances, and Instruments Prior to the Filing of an Information), an application for the destruction and disposal of seized illegal drugs will be filed “immediately after the seizure” by the law enforcement agent or the prosecutor before the court which issued a search warrant.

    “If the confiscation or seizure was done without a warrant, the application for their destruction and disposal shall be filed before the court which has territorial jurisdiction over the case and the place where the dangerous drugs, other substances and instruments were found or seized,” the SC said in Administrative Memorandum Order No. 21-02-01.

    It said there should be proper documentation which includes the conduct of a physical inventory and photographs of the seized items, as provided for under Section 21, Article 2 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

    The rules require a judge to conduct an ocular inspection of the seized drugs within 72 hours from the time the application is filed, if the confiscated drugs amount to 1 kilogram or more, or if the seized items cannot be physically brought to the court.

    “Within 24 hours from the conduct of ocular inspection, the court shall order the retention of a representative sample of the seized drug which shall be kept in the forensic laboratory of the operating unit which seized the drugs. In cases where the seized drugs are physically brought to the court, the court shall order the retention of the representative sample of the seized drugs also within 72 hours,” the SC said.

    The taking of the representative sample must be witnessed by the person from whom it was seized or his or her representative or his or her counsel; an elected public official who witnessed the physical inventory and photographing of the seized drugs; an official from the National Prosecution Service or a representative from the media; law enforcement agents who seized the drugs; and forensic laboratory personnel.

    The SC said 24 hours from the conduct of ocular inspection, the court shall order the destruction and disposal of the confiscated items.

    “Prior to the actual destruction and disposal , however, the seized drugs shall be immediately sent and delivered to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Drug and Forensic Center,” the SC added.

    The court, it said, may also allow the “proper and lawful use of seized drugs and controlled chemicals, when no longer needed as evidence, for the training of K9 detector dogs for narcotics subject to compliance of established guidelines by the PDEA.