The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has announced the establishment of forensic laboratories run by its regional offices and covering all regions in the country.
PDEA Director General Undersecretary Arturo Cacdac Jr. made the announcement over the weekend a few days after the inauguration of a drug-testing and examination facility in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Northern Luzon.
“In the last 11 years, PDEA had only one forensic laboratory and it is located at the national headquarters in Quezon City. Now, each PDEA Regional Office has a fully operational laboratory. The agency can now independently conduct analysis on seized dangerous drugs and administer drug tests on arrested suspects throughout the archipelago. Also, PDEA has highly trained chemists who conduct qualitative examinations of illegal drugs that would be used later as evidence in court,” Cacdac said.
The PDEA regional forensic laboratories are now operational in La Union, Region 1; Iloilo City, Region 6; Cebu City, Region 7; and Davao City, Region 11.
These laboratories are capable of conducting qualitative and quantitative examinations using Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometry (GCMS).
GCMS is also crucial in the conduct of confirmatory drug tests on those who are found positive in screening tests.
Other PDEA regional offices such as Mimaropa (Region) 4 are capable of conducting drug tests using the Gas Chromatography Flame Ionization Detector (GCFID), an instrument that measures concentration and purity of confiscated dangerous drugs from arrested drug offenders.
PDEA regional offices in Cagayan, Pampanga, Laguna, Legazpi City Tacloban City, Cagayan de Oro City, General Santos City, Butuan City, Zamboanga City, Benguet and Cotabato City can conduct forensic examinations using Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC).
TLC is a chromatographic technique that is useful in separating organic compounds. Because of the simplicity and rapidity of TLC, it is often used to detect, identify and analyze various illegal substances and monitor progress of organic reactions and to check purity of dangerous drugs.
Cacdac said these laboratories are vital in drug investigations.
“They hasten the process of filing drug cases in courts as seized suspected illegal drugs can be quickly examined anytime of the day after anti-drug operations,” he expalined.
Section 84 of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, calls on PDEA to “establish forensic laboratories in every province and city in order to facilitate action on seized or confiscated drugs, thereby hastening the destruction [of these drugs]without delay.”