THE government has an estimated P10.5 billion worth of illegal drugs still in its possession from various drug operations.
This information surfaced during Sen. Franklin Drilon’s interpellation of the budget of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which Sen. Panfilo Lacson sponsored before the Senate on Thursday night.
Drilon asked Lacson about the current inventory of confiscated drugs in possession of the government.
Lacson said the PDEA has about 2,000 kilos of “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride), 53 kilos of cocaine, 53 kilos of marijuana and several other types of illegal substance.
“So, let’s say that conservatively in the possession of PDEA is at least P10.5 billion. So other than PDEA are there other agencies, which are holding custody of contraband and is it significant?” Drilon asked Lacson.
Lacson told Drilon that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has in its inventory a total of 594 kilos or about P2.5 billion while the Philippine National Police (PNP) has 94.6 kilos of shabu in its possession.
The minority leader then asked Lacson as to why the seized drugs were not with the PDEA, to which Lacson said he had no answer but would find out why from PDEA.
Lacson also said that if the flowchart on seized drugs would be followed based on Section 21 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, these illegal substances should have been turned over to PDEA to be destroyed.
Phase 1 of the law involves the inventory, and qualitative examination of drugs within 24 hours after confiscation.
Phase 2 requires ocular inspection by the court within 72 hours after the filing of the case and destruction or burning of drugs 24 hours after the inspection.
“So how can we have all of these (drugs) in possession of PDEA when they’re supposed to be burned. Why is that happening?” Drilon asked.
Lacson said that PDEA could not destroy the seized drugs unless there was a court order, adding that the agency has filed several motions in different courts, but has yet to get a response.
Drilon then asked PDEA to provide the Senate copies of the pending motions for the appropriate committee to ask the Supreme Court why the motions have not been acted upon.
“If indeed the PDEA has submitted to the various courts these motions, we will hold the court responsible for gross neglect of duty,” Drilon added.
Lacson said PDEA has asked the Supreme Court to direct the concerned Regional Trial Courts to act on their motions but the high tribunal has not responded because Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was facing some problems herself.
The senator was referring to the impeachment complaint filed against Sereno at the House of Representatives.
In September, Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, threatened to issue a subpoena against a judge who reportedly failed to order the destruction of 890 kilos of “shabu,” which authorities seized in a drug raid in San Juan on December 2016.
Gordon was surprised to learn that the confiscated illegal substance has not been destroyed 10 months after it was seized by the NBI in a series of raids in San Juan in 2016.
Lacson said the drugs could have been destroyed if only the court complied with the law.