Prosecutors, PDEA team up to convict illegal drugs traders

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Sunday, June 1, 2014


TO ENSURE that cases filed against individuals involved in dealing with illegal drugs will translate to conviction, the National Prosecution Service (NPS) in the region and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Northern Mindanao (PDEA-10) have decided to work together.

Regional Prosecutor Jaime Umpa said an effective working relationship between the NPS, the prosecuting arm of the Department of Justice (DOJ), and PDEA is very crucial to keep, drug dealers and their merchandise, off the streets.

To solidify this partnership, Umpa said that starting this week he would be assigning three NPS/DOJ personnel who will be part of the team conducting anti-drug operations.

He said, the NPS staff would witness during the inventory of evidence following entrapment operation or a raid.

As stipulated in section 21 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, the presence of DOJ personnel is given importance in the whole process.

RA 9165’s section 21 states: “The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof: Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph shall be conducted at the place where the search warrant is served; or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless seizures; Provided, further, that non-compliance with these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items.”

Umpa said the DOJ representative can help build up a solid case and testify in court if needed.

He added the representative from the DOJ need not be a prosecutor since being a witness could add to his burden.

Umpa wants to designate prosecutors but since there aren’t enough prosecutors, some of the NPS support staff are qualified to act as witness.

“Bigyan ko rin ng trabaho ang mga support staff to be our (DOJ) representative,” he said.

Another issue that was discussed between the prosecutors and the anti-narcotics agents are the filing of the charges, some of which were dismissed by the court due to the haphazard manner which they were handled including the utter lack of evidence.

Umpa suggested to the group to only file cases which are airtight, and supported with overwhelming evidence, rather than rush into filing the case only to end up being dismissed in court.

“After all, our objective is conviction, to put behind bars drug dealers and pushers for good,” he said.

What the prosecutors want, he added, is for the convicted drug dealers to stay in prison for a very long time so they will not go back to peddling the illegal substances again.

He said it would be best if the prosecution and PDEA could establish solid case against the perpetrators.

Umpa said the group would meet every three months to evaluate their performance and make improvements as they see fit.

He added they would also invite the police to attend their next quarterly meeting since they also conduct anti-drug operations.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on June 02, 2014.

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