A lawmaker is seeking to amend the more than a decade-old Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002, in a bid to remove a loophole in the law seen to be used by apprehended drug traders and syndicates to escape prosecution.
Sen. Vicente Sotto 3rd said that there have been too many drug cases that have been dismissed simply because of a weakness in the law, allowing those behind the drug trade to continue with their operations.
Sotto was referring to Section 21 of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002, which has been often cited by lawyers of suspected drug traffickers to get their clients off the hook.
Section 21, paragraph 1 of the law provides that the inventory of illegal drugs should be done immediately upon seizure and confiscation at the place where the search or entrapment operation was conducted and in the presence of persons who are required to attend the inventory and photograph of seized illegal drugs.
Sotto noted that the implementation of Section 21 is not only impractical but also unsafe for law enforcers because by following what the law prescribes, law enforcers are made vulnerable to counter-assaults that may be launched by drug traffickers.
He explained that drug traffickers are usually highly organized, well funded and backed by powerful local and international syndicates. They have the capacity to launch a retaliatory assault against the drug enforcers who are arresting them, according to the senator.
“This possibility of counter-assault makes the place of seizure extremely unsafe for the proper inventory of the seized illegal drugs,” Sotto pointed out.
In his proposed amendment, Sotto suggests that the inventory of the seized illicit drugs be allowed to be conducted in a safe environment that is secured from danger.
Instead of the place where the anti-drug operation was conducted, Sotto suggests that the inventory be done at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer or team whichever is practicable.
“Many manufacturers and peddlers of illegal drugs were freed based on technicality for alleged failure of law enforcers to secure the integrity of the seized drugs after a search or buy-bust operation” Sotto said.
By amending that said provision drug traffickers will have a hard time looking for a loophole in the law that would help keep them out of jail, he concluded.