July 18, 2020
PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, has assured the public that billions of pesos worth of shabu currently under the safekeeping of the PNP Crime Laboratory will literally be up in smoke soon.
The PNP chief made the assurance after the Supreme Court ordered all Regional Trial Courts in the country hearing cases for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 to allow the immediate destruction, preferably thru 'thermal destruction' or by fire or heat or incineration, of more than five kilograms of shabu.
Gen. Gamboa called on the higher court to order the destruction of the drugs worry of the fact that the evidence room of the PNP Crime Laboratory won't be able to accommodate their forthcoming major drug hauls. "This is also to dispel speculations they could be pilfered and recycled back to the streets," he said.
During the first six months of 2020 alone, the PNP confiscated some 1.57 metric tons of shabu and around 2.9 metric tons of marijuana during 25,612 separate police operations that resulted to the arrest of 38,178 suspects. The over one ton of the so-called 'poor man's cocaine' are currently under the custody of the PNP Crime Lab headed by Brigadier Gen. Rolando J. Hinanay Jr.
Although uprooted marijuana crops are burned on site with only a little sample kept for evidentiary purpose, police are required to store confiscated shabu at the PNP Crime Lab within 24 hours as required by the Dangerous Drugs Board while following rules on the Chain of Custody.
Last week, Gen. Gamboa met with Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez to discuss his intention to have all seized drugs under their custody be destroyed immediately.
The meeting was a success as Marquez immediately issued a circular to all Regional Trial Court judges hearing cases for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 to see to it that they will order the immediate destruction of more than five kilograms of shabu within 24hours after an ocular inspection after obtaining the required representative samples.
Gen. Gamboa welcomed the latest Supreme Court Circular mandating lower courts to expedite issuance of orders for destruction of illegal drugs confiscated in police operations saying the early destruction of these seized contraband will reduce the burden on PNP evidence custodians in safekeeping these evidence for court proceedings.
The PNP chief said they will make urgent representations with the concerned Courts where pending illegal drugs cases are undergoing different stages of trial to seek court orders for the destruction of drug evidence after representative samples are retained and properly documented.
The Supreme Court thru the Office of the Court Administrator issued Circular No, 118-2020 on July 15, 2020 reminding all Regional Trial Courts to "strictly comply" with the requirements of Section 21 (4) of Republic Act 9165 on the immediate destruction of illegal drugs confiscated during police operations.
RA 9165 provides that "after the filing of the criminal case, the Court shall, within 72 hours, conduct an ocular inspection" of the confiscated, seized illegal drugs or precursor chemicals, and "through the PDEA shall within 24 hours thereafter proceed with the destruction or burning of the same", provided, that a representative sample, duly weighed and recorded is retained.
The same Supreme Court Circular also advised lower Courts to prioritize issuance of destruction orders of seized drugs amounting to five kilograms or more.
"In cases where the illegal drugs seized are physically brought to the court, the court shall issue the order of destruction thereof within 24 hours therefrom," the SC Circular further said.
During the first six months of 2020 alone, the PNP confiscated some 1.57 metric tons of crystal meth or Shabu and some 2.9 metric tons of Marijuana during 25,612 separate police operations that resulted to the arrest of 38,178 suspects. (PNP-PIO)
Prime target of the destruction are the huge volume of shabu seized by agents of the PNP Drug Enforcement Group headed by Brigadier Gen. Romeo M. Caramat Jr.
Over the past nine months, PNP-DEG operatives, with the help of the PDEA and other Police Regional Offices specifically the National Capital Region Police Office headed by Major Gen. Debold M. Sinas, the Police Regional Office 3 under Brig. Gen. Rhodel O. Sermonia and the PRO4-A headed by Brig. Gen. Vicente D. Danao Jr. have launched operations which led in the arrest of 186 'HVTs including 10 foreign nationals.
Those anti-narcotics operations likewise led in the killing of seven armed drug traffickers in shootouts and the recovery of prohibited drugs including some 1.844 kilograms of shabu, 1.6 kilos of cocaine and 4,766 pieces of the designer drug called 'Ecstasy.'
Since November 2019, PNP-DEG operatives have seized over 1.6 tons of shabu worth more than P11 billion as a result of four major anti-narcotics operations in Metro Manila, Bulacan and Cavite which led in the arrest of five suspects led by two Chinese nationals and the killing of two armed suspects, one of them the son of the Chinese man arrested in Marilao, Bulacan last June 4.