Saturday , June 23, 2018

Gordon lashes out at delay in destruction of seized illegal drugs

SENATOR Richard Gordon on Tuesday threatened to create a "constitutional crisis" when he learned that a judge had delayed the destruction of at least 800 kilograms of shabu seized 10 months ago.
At Tuesday's Senate probe into the smuggling of P6.4-billion worth of shabu from China, Senator Panfilo Lacson inquired about the status of the 890 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu reportedly seized in San Juan City last December 23, 2016.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said the evidence remains in the custody of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agencies (PDEA) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as a certain Judge Jovencio Gascon has not yet ordered the destruction of the evidence.
"I asked the help of Chief Justice (Maria Lourdes) Sereno to intervene in this particular case so Judge Gascon can expedite the ocular inspection and so we can destroy the seized shabu right away because the court order is a must before burning it," Aguirre said.
He noted that Gascon is not seriously doing his job when they met last August in Cebu.
An angry Gordon said that he is willing to challenge an equal body on this matter, as he expressed fear that the seized evidence could be reused, rechanneled, and sold back into the drug market.
"This Judge Gascon is violating the law because he is sitting on this case. We will summon him to our next hearing even if this will result in a constitutional crisis. This court is not acting to stop the proliferation of drugs kahit marami na ang pinapatay dahil dito," Gordon said.
Lacson, a former national police chief, described as illegal the delayed destruction of illegal drugs under the existing laws.
He said that after 24 hours after submitting this shabu to PDEA for forensic laboratory investigation, they should destroy it right away.  
The senator said there is a possibility of redistribution of the illegal drugs if not destroyed immediately.
He also cited Republic Act 6126 Section 21 on the chain of custody where he questioned why 500 kg were under PDEA while the remaining shabu was reportedly under the custody of the NBI.
"The final custodian is the PDEA and based on the proper procedure, within 24 hours they should proceed to the destruction or burning of these illegal drugs," Lacson added.
PDEA Director Belen Banag, for his part, said they cannot destroy any seized goods specifically illegal drugs without the court order as this will cause a violation on their part.
"We already wrote to the court to expedite the ocular inspection. We cannot destroy the evidence without the final ocular inspection by the court," Banag said.
NBI Deputy Director Vicente de Guzman said all evidence was properly marked last August 30 as well as the ocular inspection for the 500 kg that has been done in front the accused and the proper authorities. (SunStar Philippines)