Mar 15, 2023, Rappler.com
‘The testimony of the asset confirmed what we have heard all this time,’ says Surigao Representative Ace Barbers
MANILA, Philippines – A Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority (PDEA) and Philippine National Police (PNP) informant told a House panel in a closed-door session that there were instances where more than half of illegal drugs confiscated from buy-bust operations were given to agents as a reward for their tips.
In a press release on Tuesday, March 14, Surigao 2nd District Representative and House dangerous drugs committee chairman Robert Ace Barbers said that according to the unnamed informant, “the amount varies from 30% of the haul up to as much as 70%.”
The scheme has supposedly been in practice for two decades.
“The testimony of the asset confirmed what we have heard all this time. The illegal practice of giving substantial portions of the drugs seized now has a face. In due time, if evidence warrants, criminal charges will be filed,” Barbers said.
The disclosure was made in an executive session following Tuesday’s public inquiry into the drug recycling scheme mentioned by PDEA Director General Moro Lazo in February.
Lazo had said that there were informants who sought seized illegal drugs as “reward” for their successful apprehensions.
Antipolo City 2nd District Representative and committee vice-chair Romeo Acop said there must reforms on how to dispose confiscated narcotics.
“The problem is that illegal drugs we seize are within the custody of the law enforcers for a long time,” Acop said.
Former PNP chief and senator Panfilo Lacson said in 2020 that storing seized drugs for too long, instead of destroying them as soon as possible, “is where the temptation of recycling begins.”
Under the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, illegal drugs must be submitted to the PDEA forensic laboratory for examination within 24 hours from confiscation.
After a case is filed, the court, within 72 hours, shall conduct an ocular inspection of the illegal narcotics and destroy them within 24 hours thereafter.
The PNP, however, said the problem is that courts take around six days to make an examination.
The PNP and PDEA told the committee that over 7,000 and 1,500 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) respectively were currently in their inventories. – Chris Burnet Ramos/Rappler.com
Chris Burnet Ramos is a Rappler intern.