Low conviction rate hounds PDEA

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014


EVEN with more anti-drug operations conducted, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Northern Mindanao admitted there is a low conviction rate from cases brought up by the anti-narcotics body to courts.

Rosemarie Bajao, information officer of PDEA-Northern Mindanao, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Tuesday afternoon that witnesses' failure to attend court hearings may have primarily caused early dismissal or acquittal of many of the drug-related cases.

As provided by law, justice department personnel, media people and/or barangay officials are the principal witnesses who can testify against drug personalities.

However, they usually fail to show up in courts, Bajao said.

With the reports consolidated by PDEA, all of their buy-bust and controlled delivery operations had been formally lodged in the regional prosecutor's office.

"But what usually goes wrong is when the prosecutor finds no probable cause on the case. Before endorsing it to the proper court, the prosecutor needs all the necessary evidence, otherwise, it will lead to dismissal," Bajao stressed.

Earlier, Jaime Umpa, regional director of the National Prosecution Service (NPS), reminded the necessity of sufficient evidence to keep a drug case moving.

"They (PDEA) have to make sure that the cases they forward to us are founded to ensure conviction," Umpa told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro in a previous interview.

The low conviction rate has become more challenging for the anti-illegal drugs law enforcers to continue apprehending drug dealers, traders in the region, Bajao said.

Despite the “turtle slow” development of every profiled case, PDEA is optimistic its operations will not be in vain at all.

"The conviction is low. The trials are slow. But we are still positive that good things will happen to these cases since we see progress," she added.

Conviction of high-profile cases

Meanwhile, the anti-narcotic arm of the government is still “glad” of the success of the high-profile cases through conviction.

High-profile cases include government officials and law enforcers being involved in the illegal drugs trade. A confiscated one-kilogram or more dangerous drugs also falls under this category.

In April 2013, a ranking politician in Misamis Oriental was sentenced to life imprisonment barely three months after he was arrested. He was ordered to pay P500,000 following a buy-bust operation in Barangay Cugman that led to his arrest.

The politician is tagged by PDEA as No. 2 on its Top 10 list of “High Value Target.”

The PDEA also said that in December last year alone, “we’ve learned that this politician was able to sell at least 200 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) with an estimated amount of P2 million."

In December 2011, big time illegal drug trader Sammy Muhammad Yusop was sentenced to life imprisonment 21 days only after he was arrested in a controlled delivery operation of PDEA outside a mall here.

Yusop was loading a package from a courier company to his vehicle that contained almost two kilograms of shabu when he was apprehended by PDEA agents.

The illegal drug was taped inside the picture tube of a television set sent to him that had an estimated worth of P20 million.

Yusop was also ordered to pay P500,000 for the offense.

Non-bailable

Under the Section 5 of the Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2000, the penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million shall be imposed upon any person who sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, distribute dispatch in transit or transport any dangerous drug, including any and all species of opium poppy regardless of the quantity and purity involved, or shall act as a broker in any of such transactions.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 16, 2014.

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