• PDEA issues guidelines on drug surrenderers

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    With the increasing number of persons surrendering for illegal-drug use, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Friday came out with guidelines on dealing with self-confessed drug users and drug pushers who voluntarily submit themselves to authorities and admit their involvement in the illegal-drug trade.

    PDEA Director General Isidro Lapeña said a Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) regulation has established clear guidelines on reintegrating into society individuals who have fallen victims to the drug menace.

    The resolution was approved and adopted on August 3, 2016 and took effect on September 3, 2016

    “There is no provision in Republic Act 9165, or The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, that provides guidelines on handling voluntary surrender of drug suspects. That is why there is an urgent need to make one at the onset of the overwhelming surge of drug surrenderers nationwide,” Lapena said.

    Among the general guidelines provided are:

    • Voluntary surrender is not an assurance that the surrenderers shall not be subjected to drug law enforcement operations.

    • The whole submission process shall be covered by video recording and personal circumstances of the surrenderers shall be recorded in a blotter registry book.

    • The surrenderers shall immediately be subjected to body search and shall be required to sign an Affidavit of Undertaking and Waiver allowing the conduct of physical/medical examination and drug test, among others.

    • The surrenderers shall be interviewed on their alleged involvement and all vital information regarding their illegal drug activity shall be drawn for use as reference for validation and cross-validation with existing list of targeted drug suspects.

    • No clearance or certificate shall be issued to the surrenderers.

    “If the surrenderer has a pending warrant of arrest or criminal case, and has not posted bail, the concerned office shall have temporary custody pending verification. Otherwise, if the drug personality is a high-value target and has no pending warrant of arrest, the general guidelines mentioned shall be observed,” Lapeña said.

    He added that if the surrenderer is a user, it shall be determined if rehabilitation is applicable in his/her case and follow existing DDB regulation on procedures on treatment and rehabilitation for that purpose.

    The surrenderer shall state in his/her sworn affidavit that he/she shall undergo voluntary treatment.

    Any monetary consideration shall be borne by the surrenderer.

    If he/she cannot afford the treatment, he/she shall submit himself/herself to community-based rehabilitation program.

    After the submission process has ended, the surrenderer shall be under the supervision of the local government units (LGUs) through the City or Municipal Anti-Drug Abuse Council (CADAC/MADAC), and shall report to the chief of police at least once a week for six months and may be subjected to random drug testing.

    The LGUs in the area shall coordinate with the government and non-government organizations for provision of livelihood and training programs to the drug suspects who surrender voluntarily.

    “The intensified anti-drug efforts of the government have made a big impact on drug dependents and pushers nationwide that led to their voluntary submission to authorities. The opportunity presented itself. We did not expect this. Now it is time to provide them effective mechanisms to ensure their reintegration into society, to recover and become productive citizens again,” the PDEA chief said.

    Based on the latest Philippine National Police data, as of September 7, 2016, a total of 689,833 drug suspects (641,052 users and 48,781 pushers) had voluntarily surrendered throughout the country.

    JING VILLAMENTE

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