DOJ set to order prosecutors to prioritize, fast track handling of drug cases

Published October 7, 2020, 10:23 AM

by Jeffrey Damicog

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to issue an order telling prosecutors nationwide to prioritize and fast track the handling of illegal drugs cases.


Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Wednesday, Oct. 7, the move is meant to support the directive of President Duterte who ordered the destruction of all illegal drugs within a week from seizure.

“In accordance with the President’s directive, the DOJ will issue a memo circular to all prosecutors investigating drug cases to give top priority to the resolution of the same, to file the informations ASAP (as soon as possible), and to move for a court order to conduct ocular inspection of and destroy the seized drugs, precursors, etc within the time specified in RA 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002),” Guevarra said.

Last Monday, Oct. 5, the President ordered authorities to destroy by next week all seized illegal drugs and just retain specimens.

The chief executive pointed out that the destruction of seized illegal drugs would “better protect” Filipinos and prevent these from being “stolen, used or recycled.”

“The President’s directive to immediately destroy illegal drugs seized or confiscated by law enforcement agents should be taken in the context of Sec. 21(4) of the comprehensive dangerous drugs law which requires the trial courts, within 72 hours from the filing of the criminal information, to conduct an ocular inspection of the illegal drugs, precursors, paraphernalia, etc, and thereafter proceed to burn or destroy the same, thru the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency), within 24 hours after the inspection,” Guevarra explained.

“A representative sample of the seized drugs will be retained for use during the trial of the case,” he added.

With these provisions under RA 9165, the secretary stressed that “law enforcement agents must file the criminal complaints immediately so that the destruction of the seized drugs could proceed as early as possible.”

Prior Duterte’s directive, the Supreme Court (SC) also issued a circular back in July 15 ordering all Regional Trial Court (RTC) judges to immediately conduct inspections and order the immediate destruction of all seized illegal drugs that weigh at least five kilograms.

The order was issued after Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez was informed by then Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa that seized or surrendered dangerous drugs remain in the custody of enforcement agents due to the delayed issuance of court orders for their destruction.

In July 15 circular, Marquez told RTC judges that are mandated under RA 9165 to conduct inspection of the seized dangerous drugs within 72 hours from the filing of a criminal complaint in court and to issue a destruction order within 24 hours after the ocular inspection.