PHILIPPINE Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino must be doubly satisfied these days reveling in the knowledge that under his watch the conviction rate of drug cases for CY 2018 has gone up by 46.82 percent. According to his office out of the 41,583 drug-related cases filed in courts for the past year 16,024 have already been resolved and that out of the resolved cases 13,111 resulted in conviction which is 81.82 percent.
The PDEA further reported that the present conviction rate for drug-related cases has reached 46.82 percent which is higher than the 35 percent conviction rate in 2017.
Aquino pointed out that the rise in conviction rate of drug related cases could be attributed to the involvement and active participation of lawyers from the PDEA during pre-trial proceedings in drug cases. He then pointed out that the dismissal or inordinate delay of many drug cases filed in court has to do with the failure by the government to take advantage and make use of available pre-trial measures and remedies. “With the authority given to the lawyers of the PDEA to appear in court in behalf of the said agency for the purpose of availing of pre-trial measures and remedies, and actively participating in the pre-trial proper on drug cases, this can be avoided, he added.”
From the PDEA website we learn that during the latter part of 2016 a two day conference was held in Metro Manila participated in by 36 lawyers from PDEA, for the purpose of addressing the problem and issue of a high dismissal and acquittal rate of drug-related cases in the country by coming up with appropriate remedies.
During that conference dubbed as “PDEA Lawyers Forum” a dialogue was also conducted between the said PDEA lawyers and representatives from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Judiciary to thresh out issues and concerns in relation to the prosecution of drug cases in the country.
With the rise in conviction rate being reported for 2018 it would seem as if the cooperation and collaboration established between the lawyers of PDEA and the DOJ as well as the Judiciary back in 2016 has borne fruit.
Nonetheless in order to reinforce the positive development as reported by PDEA it also becomes necessary to provide additional information to the public on some of the details concerning the rise in conviction rate for drug cases in 2018.
Some of these details have to do with supplying a classification as to what kind of drug offender was convicted in court. Were a large number of those convicted in 2018 street level drug dealers or drug pushers, or were they merely drug users? What is the percentage of conviction of so called middle level drug distributors or alleged drug lords? Is there a drug syndicate that was totally eliminated with the conviction of all of its members in 2018? If so what is the percentage from out the total conviction rate?
The public has to be informed about this in order to augment the recent increase of trust and confidence of the people reposed on the premier drug agency of the government.
This is only the first step. The second step is to identify and name all those high profile personalities that have been convicted in 2018 and which forms part of the overall conviction rate for that year. This is important in order for the public to be convinced that there are no sacred cows in the relentless drug war campaign of the President.