By Chito Chavez
The government’s intense drug war has gained significant grounds as the conviction rate of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on resolved cases for calendar year 2018 increased by 46.82 percent compared to the previous year based on its record on cases filed against drug personalities.
In 2018, a total of 41,583 cases were filed by PDEA, resulting in 13,111 cases of conviction which is 81.82 percent of all cases filed.
This is 46.82 percent more than the 35 percent conviction rate of the 41,224 cases filed in 2017.
PDEA spokesman Derrick Arnold Carreon said this is the first ever recorded high conviction rate on drug cases filed by PDEA since the assumption of PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino in 2017.
Aquino said the higher rate of conviction in 2018 can be attributed to the active participation of PDEA lawyers in pre-trial proceedings of PDEA initiated drug cases, through the issuance of PDEA Guidelines in the Active Participation of PDEA Attorney’s in Pre-trial Proceedings and Trial of PDEA-Initiated Drug Case.
“With these guidelines, all lawyers assigned in the Legal and Prosecution Service have been authorized to appear in court on behalf of the agency for the purpose of availing pre-trial measures and remedies, as well as actively participating in the pre-trial proper on drug cases,” Aquino said.
He added it has been observed that a considerable number of cases were dismissed or indeterminately delayed because of the failure or negligence of some prosecutors to take advantage and make use of pre-trial measures and remedies under the rules of court and other relevant issuances.
Another factor that contributed to the higher conviction rate, according to Aquino, is the initiation of PDEA’s Project Court Watch.
Project Court Watch is PDEA’s case monitoring program where its case monitors assigned in the different PDEA regional offices serve as liaison officers to the courts and prosecution offices to monitor the status and progress of the drug cases filed.
“We also conduct moot court sessions to personnel appearing as witnesses in courts instilling the confidence and competence during proceedings,” Aquino said.
“Our efforts are bearing fruits, but much is still to be done. One measure of the success of our campaign against illegal drug is the filing of airtight cases that will result in the conviction of the accused,’’ he concluded.