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Barbers asks anti-narcotics to show seized drugs inventory

February 22, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 260 views

SURIGAO del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers on Wednesday asked all anti-drug law enforcement agencies to account and submit to the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs the complete inventory list of all seized illegal drugs that remain under their custody pending court resolution of their cases.

The solon from Mindanao’s call was prompted by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Virgilio Moro Lazo’s revelation about the alleged agency’s previous policy of “paying 30%” of confiscated drugs to assets or informants as a “reward” for successful drug seizures.

“As of now, we have no clear knowledge or understanding [of] the disposition of previously seized drugs that are still under the custody of law enforcement agencies such as the PDEA, the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI),” Barbers said.

“We know that pending destruction of those enormous amounts of seized drugs like shabu which are still in (the) custody of these agencies, there are huge temptations that their custodians could be bribed for large amounts of money, to pilfer or let go these illegal drugs for recycling,” he added.

Barbers said he and his colleagues would want to know the whereabouts, disposition and case status of the 990 kilos worth P6.7 billion seized by PNP anti-drug agents in Manila in October last year; the 1,855 kilos of shabu worth P11 billion seized on March 15, 2022 in Infanta, Quezon; the P11.953 billion worth of illegal drugs reportedly seized by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in various drug bust operations in 2022 and turned over to the PDEA; the 365 kilos of shabu worth P730 million seized in August 2000 from six Chinese nationals in Sariaya off Tayabas Bay in Quezon, among others.

“Marami tayong nababasa at naririnig na balita na mga malalaking drug bust ng ating mga anti-drug agencies pero bihira, kung meron man, na may nababalitaan tayo na sinira or sinunog nila ang mga nahuling droga matapos ang kanilang operasyon,” he said.

“Under the RA (Republic Act) 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, may specific period ang batas na sa loob lamang ng 24 or 36 hours, kailangan ma-destroy na ang mga seized drugs. Pero hindi ito nangyayari at maraming dahilan ang mga anti-drug agents to keep them under their custody. At kung nasa custody nila ang mga ito, malaki ang tendency na ma-pilfer, mawala at ma-recycle ang mga droga na ito,” he said.

In September 2019, former PDEA chief Aaron Aquino admitted during a Senate budget hearing that the recycling of drugs is still rampant because “when operatives seize drugs, half would be surrendered while the rest would either be saved for future operations (possibly for planting) or be sold.”

“Especially on operatives down there. And usually kasi, ang nagiging modus is that when they seize drugs, maybe half of that will be surrendered or ‘yun ang ipalalabas nila na ‘yun lang ang na-seize nila, while all the other ones are being kept either for future operations or the worse of it is they sell the drugs,” Aquino said.