“The problem is the destruction itself, because under the law, it is the offender that should shoulder the cost of destroying the illegal drugs,” Getalla told members of the Cebu City Council in Tagalog.
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PDEA-7 has no facility to destroy seized drugs
Lorraine L. Ecarma, Mary Ruth R. Malinao (The Freeman) - October 23, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Owing to the costs involved, the regular and more frequent destruction of illegal drugs is impractical, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-7 Director Wardley Getalla said yesterday amid calls for the agency to destroy seized drugs to avoid risks of them being recycled.

“The problem is the destruction itself, because under the law, it is the offender that should shoulder the cost of destroying the illegal drugs,” Getalla told members of the Cebu City Council in Tagalog.

“But do you expect them to spend for that? What happens is, it’s the government that shoulders the cost, and so we cannot do it weekly [for budget reasons].”

Getalla spoke at the council session in response to the councilors’ request for an inventory of illegal drugs seized by the agency over the last five years amid the “ninja cops” controversy.

He said that the last time they destroyed confiscated drugs was on July 26, 2017, or more than two years ago. Drugs worth P10 million were then incinerated at the Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes in Cebu City.

Getalla said that around 35 kilograms of drugs have been seized in the region since 2013 up to present, and around 19 kilos are still in courts to be returned for destruction.

Destruction by incineration, the process specifically prescribed under the law, entails an estimated cost of P70,000, according to the PDEA-7 chief.

Getalla said that PDEA is “very willing” to destroy the confiscated drugs but it lacks the facility.

He added that they are planning to acquire their own thermal incinerating machine but he solicited support from the city government, saying eliminating drugs is everyone’s concern.

Getalla revealed that another round of destruction is set for the first week of December after an inventory in November.

For his part, Regional Trial Court executive judge Macaundas Hadjirasul said that the requirement of destroying drugs within 24 hours following the 72-hour period after the filing of the criminal case in court is difficult to comply with because of two reasons.

First, Hadjirasul agreed that there is no equipment that can be used for such purpose at the moment and second is the requirement that the evidence must be brought to the court first and be identified by eye witnesses.

Clearer Guidelines

Meanwhile, the Capitol wants to establish a clearer protocol on the storage and disposal of illegal drugs seized during anti-drug operations.

Governor Gwen Garcia on Monday met with officers from the PDEA, the Cebu Crime Laboratory and the Cebu Provincial Police Office to discuss the current protocol on the destruction of illegal drugs.

“This is especially important in light of the news of ninja cops and mga recycled drugs,” Garcia said.

She said confiscated items should be disposed of within 48 hours upon seizure.

“The important thing here is the speed by which we can have these drugs disposed of. The longer it stays, the longer the temptation stays or the possibility of temptation arises,” the governor said.

However, she clarified that they will still be seeking the will of the court on the matter, that is why she is set to meet again with the executive judges to arrive at an agreement on the disposal and storage protocol.

Garcia also clarified that there are no “ninja” cops in Cebu as the drugs seized do not go to the CPPO but to PDEA.

At least nine “ninja cops” in Central Visayas have been removed from their posts for using seized drugs from their operations for personal consumption. JMD (FREEMAN)

DRUG PDEA
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