PDEA backs Pacquiao move for courts to accept critical evidence in drug cases

Published September 25, 2018, 5:04 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Chito Chavez

More arrested drug suspects may be convicted if only the court will declare as admissible evidence swabbing drug samples and sniffing canine (K-9) drug findings obtained from drug buy-bust and other related operations.

PDEA Dir Aaron Aquino speaks during a press conference at the PDEA headquarters in Quezon City, April 25 2018. (Mark BAlmores / MANILA BULLETIN)
PDEA Dir Aaron Aquino speaks (Mark Balmores / MANILA BULLETIN)

With this, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is batting for the approval of Senate Resolution No. 888, introduced by Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao that will have these pieces of evidence lawfully accepted by the courts.

Pacquiao’s legislative proposal requests the Supreme Court (SC) to issue the Rules of Procedure making the sniffing of illegal drugs by trained canine units and swabbing of drug samples competent pieces of evidence in illegal drug cases.

PDEA Narcotic Detection Dogs (NDDs), or K9s use the sense of smell to positively locate hidden illegal drugs, while swabbing method is used to detect drug residues and traces evidence.

Cotton tips are used to swab the surface and tested with suitable solvents for screening.

However, these types of evidence are not yet acceptable or admitted in courts.

PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino said the proposal is a welcome development, particularly in the filing of airtight cases in court for violation of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

“The proposed resolution, if considered, would allow additional tangible evidence as part of the preparation and filing of air-tight cases against arrested drug personalities to guarantee their conviction,” Aquino said.

In Senate Resolution No. 888, Pacquiao has recognized the proliferation of illegal drugs and drug-related cases in the country’s trial courts.

These cases continue to drag and remain pending, adding more burden to the already clogged court dockets.

A significant number of these cases fail in prosecution not only because of mishandled evidence, but also because of insufficiency of evidence.

Aquino said aside from the substantial gaps in the chain of custody rule of seized illegal drugs, inconsistencies in testimony, and non-attendance of prosecution witnesses, lack of convincing evidence is one of the frequent reasons that lead to the dismissal of drug cases.

“We would like to thank Senator Pacquiao for introducing the resolution. K9 findings and swabbing of drug samples if admitted as evidence in court can strengthen the prosecution of drug-related cases in favor of the government,” the PDEA chief said.