A LAWMAKER has asked for a full inventory of confiscated drugs that are in the hands of law enforcement agencies after an anti-drug top official revealed a previous policy of awarding part of the haul to informants.
“As of now, we have no clear knowledge or understanding on the disposition of previously seized drugs that are still under the custody of law enforcement agencies,” Surigao Del Norte Rep. Robert Ace S. Barbers said in a statement on Wednesday.
Government offices involved in anti-drug operations include the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine National Police, and the National Bureau of Investigation.
“We read and hear in the news a lot of huge drug busts by our anti-drug agencies, but we rarely hear about whether these drugs are being destroyed,” Mr. Barbers said.
PDEA Director General Moro Virgilio M. Lazo said during a House dangerous drugs committee hearing that the agency used to have a policy of paying assets or informants 30% of the confiscated drugs as reward.
Mr. Lazo said he had received similar requests for such a reward scheme but denied these.
He admitted that “there are huge temptations that their custodians could be bribed for large amounts of money, to pilfer or let go (of) these illegal drugs for recycling.”
Under Republic Act No. 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, drugs collected within 24 hours must be examined by the PDEA forensic laboratory. After a criminal case is filed, the court shall do an inspection of the seized drugs within 72 hours, and within 24 hours thereafter, the drugs must be burned or destroyed.
In a 2019 Senate hearing, former PDEA chief Aaron N. Aquino revealed that methamphetamine or shabu is continuously recycled with the assistance of law enforcers despite former President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz