PDEA7 Regional Director Wardley Getalla (holding a microphone) in an AGIO7 forum in the Phil. Information Agency (PIA7) in Cebu City. Along with Getalla is PRO7 spokesperson Lt. Col. Ma. Aurora Rayos (2nd from left).

CEBU CITY, Philippines-The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) regional office here has assured the public that their seized drugs are kept safe. “Drug evidence are also barcoded, and details are entered into a dedicated monitoring system as an additional security measure to preserve the integrity and evidentiary value of seized drug evidence,”

Leia Albiar-Alcantara, the spokesman of PDEA7 told the local media in a statement. Alcantara’s statement came after the issue of alleged drug recycling surfaced as reports of the so-called “ninja cops” cropped up anew in the senate. Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, a former top police official told senators in an executive session about the presence of “ninja cops”, police officers who would recycle seized illegal drugs.

Magalong, the erstwhile chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) revealed about “14 ninja cops” when he appeared in the Senate blue ribbon committee. Cebu City Councilor Antonio Cuenco, a former congressman has asked the police for an inventory of the seized drugs for the last five years but it is not yet clear if what agency has the custody of the seized drugs.

Section 21 of the Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) has designated PDEA to take charge and have custody of seized and surrendered drugs but it is not also clear if the same has been followed to the letter. The same provision of the law stated that after the filing of the criminal case, the court shall conduct an ocular inspection of the evidence. The PDEA 7 said further that they need a court order before the destruction of the seized drugs will be made.

In the same statement through Alcantara, PDEA revealed that their evidence room can not be opened by just anybody as it has three locks where the keys are being kept by the regional director, the chief chemist and the evidence custodian. “PDEA RO VII Laboratory Section is equipped with CCTV cameras to ensure tight monitoring of activities in the area. The evidence room also has three (3) locks, the keys to which are in the possession of different individuals.

One is with the regional director, the second is with the chief chemist, and the third is with the evidence custodian,” the statement said. They are also conducting a regular inventory of evidence that is done annually with witnesses coming from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation apart from their own PDEA officials. Earlier, as a deterrent in the recycling of drugs, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Gemma Cruz Vinluan revealed that all drug enforcement unit cops of CCPO will be required not to wear pants with pockets during their anti-drug operations. Vinluan said she will immediately implement the order.

Meanwhile, in the entire Central Visayas region, PRO7 Regional Director Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas announced that the CCPO remains as the top performer in the region in the illegal drugs operations from September 1-26, 2019. The entire PRO7 has seized illegal drugs mostly shabu that reached P138 million where Cebu City confiscated P73.5 million which also comprised of marijuana and nubain ampules. Coming next to CCPO is the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) with P37 million followed by Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO) with P8 million. Siquijor Provincial Police Office (SPPO) interestingly only recorded P1, 904 worth of seized shabu weighing 0.28 grams./AAJ