Bureaucratic hurdles

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    THE public, not just the senators, was given a clear picture of how the government is faring with its much-touted war on drugs, with the recent appearance of Director General Aaron Aquino of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) at a Senate hearing on his agency’s 2020 budget.

    In his presentation before the Senate committee, Aquino revealed that some anti-narcotics agents were involved in the sale of seized illegal drugs called “recycling” or use them as planted evidence in illicit, money-making operations. This is not unknown to many of us, since the Philippine National Police internal service and task force against abusive and corrupt cops have been doing their job judiciously in arresting offenders who are a few of their own.

    Director Aquino also blamed the judiciary’s slow order or green light for the PDEA to destroy confiscated drugs, thus the pileup of the inventory of these items in PDEA offices or warehouses.

    Aquino revealed that a total of P22 billion worth of illegal drugs accumulated from several anti-drug operations are still in the custody of PDEA, including 300 kilos of crystal meth or shabu that were confiscated nine years ago. The longer these contraband stay in safekeeping, the greater the chances of loss and pilferage.

    The PDEA is clearly doing its rather risky work, with outstanding results. The director said there have been large seizures of illegal drugs this year, as compared to the previous years.

    “From January to August alone, we have seized around P10 billion worth of drugs,” Director Aquino reported.

    The problem of recycling seized drugs involves the police, and President Duterte, who showed exasperation in trying to solve this issue, has been heard once again airing his desire to kill corrupt policemen.

    The issue of mounting drugs inventory, however, is one for PDEA and the courts to resolve. The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 directs the court, after the filing of a case, to inspect the contraband within 72 hours for validation, and for PDEA to destruct or burn the illegal drugs within 24 hours. Why the court in Las Pinas failed to inspect, validate, and issue the needed order to destroy the confiscated drugs after 10 years is something for the government, especially the judicial branch, to explain.

    We support the move by the Senate to intercede with the Supreme Court to help PDEA in this regard.

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