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New rules on seized drugs disposal take effect tomorrow

The Rule on the Destruction and Disposal of Seized Dangerous Drugs, Other Substances, and Instruments Prior to the Filing of an Information approved by the Supreme Court (SC) will take effect tomorrow.

The early destruction of illegal drugs seized in police operations will reduce the burden on Philippine National Police evidence custodians in safekeeping the items, PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas said in a statement yesterday.

 “There will be transparency, accountability and clearly defined chain of custody of these evidence for court proceedings,” he said.

Sinas recently tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday and is on 14-day quarantine. He is currently asymptomatic.

Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, Deputy Chief for Administration, is officer-in-charge in his absence.

From November 1, 2020 to January 22, 2021, the PNP seized 161 kilograms of shabu; 1,200 kilograms of marijuana; 400 grams of cocaine; and 2,624 Ecstasy pills.

Most confiscated drugs are kept at the PNP Crime Laboratory while awaiting further orders from the court.

The new rules under A.M. No. 21-02-01-SC provide that the application for the destruction and disposal of the seized dangerous drugs and related paraphernalia shall be filed immediately after the seizure by the law enforcement agent or the prosecutor before the court which issued the search warrant.

The SC said if the seizure or confiscation was done without a warrant, the application for their destruction and disposal shall be filed before the court which has territorial jurisdiction over the case and the place where the dangerous drugs, other substances, and instruments were found and seized.

In both instances, compliance with Section 21(1), Article II of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) is required. It provides for proper documentation which includes, among others, the conduct of physical inventory and photograph of the seized items, according to the high court.

A judge shall conduct an ocular inspection of the seized articles within 72 hours from the time the application is filed if the seized drugs amount to at least a kilogram, or if the seized instruments and equipment cannot be physically brought to court.

Within 24 hours from the conduct of the ocular inspection, the court shall order the retention of a representative sample of the seized drugs which shall be kept in the forensic laboratory of the operating unit which seized the drugs.

In cases where the seized drugs are physically brought to the court, the court shall order the retention of the representative sample of the seized drugs also within 24 hours.

The taking of the representative sample shall be witnessed by the person from whom the items were seized or his or her representative, or counsel; the elected public official who witnessed the physical inventory and photographing of the seized drugs; an official from the National Prosecution Service or a representative from the media; law enforcement agent/s who seized the drugs; and the forensic laboratory personnel, the SC said.*PNA

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