THE Department of the Interior and Local Government in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DILG-Armm) is improving the capacity of law enforcement agencies in terms of filing of cases on illegal drugs and illegal possession of firearms.

DILG-Armm Secretary Noor Hafizullah Abdullah said they have conducted an orientation on “Strengthening the Legal Capacity of Persons and Agents in Authority on Filing Drug Cases.”

The agencies that joined the orientation included the Police Regional Office-Armm, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Armm, prosecutor’s offices from Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Armm, National Bureau of Investigation-Armm and the Department of Justice.

Abdullah said the orientation was conducted to boost the capacity of persons and agents in authority specifically those involved in filing drug-related cases as well as in cases of illegal possession of firearms.

Abdullah said that the orientation seminar is in response to the issue of low conviction rate of drug cases in ARMM and is part of the continuing legal education on filing drug cases in courts.

“Pinag-aralan namin kung ano ang mga balakid, and we found out na mahina ang preparation or build-up ng case,” Abdullah said.

Since 2003, there were 1,854 cases of illegal drugs in the region, 177 of which were filed in 2016. Out of these cases, only three resulted in conviction, two in 2003 and one in 2011.

“There are certain cases also na at the prosecution level ay dini-dismiss na agad ang kaso,” Abdullah said.

He said the cases dismissed immediately were recorded at 732, or about 40 percent of the total illegal drug cases in the past 14 years.

PDEA-Armm Director Valente Carino said that 90 percent to 95 percent of illegal drug cases were dismissed because of lack of probable cause.

Maguindanao Provincial Prosecutor Rohairah Lao said there are common mistakes committed by persons and agents in authority that result in the dismissal of cases.

Lao said these include lack of elements of the crime charged, inconsistent or contradictory statements of arresting officers in their affidavits during the inquest, and lack of vital documents and evidence, among others. (Bong Garcia/SunStar Philippines)