PNP to revisit anti-drug campaign procedures following SC decision

Published August 21, 2020, 5:44 PM

by Aaron Recuenco 

The Philippine National Police (PNP) vowed to revisit its operational procedures especially in its illegal drugs war campaign after the Supreme Court issued a ruling assailing the legality of police warrantless searches and confiscations based on anonymous tips.

PNP chief Police Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa said the High Court ruling provides an opportunity for the police organization to improve its operational procedures in order to ensure that what they do is based on the law.

Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa (PNP / MANILA BULLETIN)

“What is important is this is a very good tool now on the part of the PNP to revisit our policies in order to address the loopholes that have been identified by that case,” said Gamboa, a lawyer.

Voting 11-3, the Supreme Court en banc acquitted Jerry Sapla who was earlier convicted by a lower court for transporting four bricks of marijuana in 2014.

Sapla was arrested in a checkpoint after he was caught in possession of P5-million worth of marijuana in a passenger jeepney based on the anonymous tip that describes what he wore and the public utility vehicle he was riding in.

Despite his denial that he was then carrying baggage, Sapla was convicted in 2017. He then appealed his case before the Supreme Court.

Penned by Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa, the SC decision questioned the manner by which Sapla was arrested and insisted that the latter is covered by the Bill of Rights stipulated in the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

The decision stated that while it recognizes the need to eradicate illegal drugs trade in the country, operations could not just be done if they violate the rights of the citizens, especially on the aspect of unreasonable searches and seizures.

The decision stated that the Constitution does not allow the concept of ‘the end justifies the means.”

The decision came amid widespread accusation against the PNP of planting evidence in the campaign against illegal drugs.

Gamboa said the PNP respects the decision of the Supreme Court .

“We will read the decision and then we will come up with the details on where the problems are so in the future, it will not be committed by the PNP,” said Gamboa.