Appropriate handling of illegal drugs seized during a buyout



Dear PAO,

My father was arrested in a buyout in Caloocan City for allegedly selling three sachets of shabu weighing a total of 0.004 kilograms. After his arrest, police took him to one of the Quezon City police stations where the marking, inventorying and taking of photographs of the allegedly confiscated shabu bags were carried out in the presence of two police officers. My father was charged with selling illegal drugs. Did the police actions comply with our law?

Kurt

Dear Kurt,

To address your concern, we will refer to Law of the Republic (RA) 10640, also known as the “Law to Further Strengthen the Government’s Anti-Drugs Campaign, Amending for the Purposes of Article 21 of the Law of the Republic of Republic No. 9165 ”, otherwise known as the“ Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act 2002 ”, which provides:

“Section 1. xxx The apprehension team having custody and initial control of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments / paraphernalia and / or laboratory equipment shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, carry out a physical inventory of the seized items and photograph them even in the presence of the accused or the person (s) from whom these items were confiscated and / or seized, or his representative or counsel, with an elected representative and representative from the Public Prosecutor’s Office or the media who will be required to sign the copies of the inventory and receive a copy of it: provided that the physical inventory and the photograph are taken at the place where the search warrant is served; or to the nearest police station or apprehending officer / team’s nearest office, as possible, in the event of warrantless seizures: provided, finally, that failure to comply with these requirements under de grou justifiable nds, as long as the integrity and the probative value of the seized objects are correctly preserved, by the apprehending agent / team, will not render null and void the seizures and the custody of the said objects. xxx “(underline)

It is therefore clear from the aforementioned provision that the marking, physical inventory and taking of photographs of illicit drugs such as shabu must be carried out at the nearest police station in the event of warrantless seizures and in the presence of a elected official of the barangay and a representative of the Ministry of Justice or the media. Your father was arrested in Caloocan City but taken to one of the Quezon City police stations. In addition, the marking, the taking of photographs and the physical inventory of the shabu allegedly sold by your father took place without the presence of the isolating witnesses mentioned in article 1 of RA 10640. In view of the flagrant defects of procedure committed by the police against your father, their actions cannot be considered in accordance with our law.

We hope we have been able to answer your questions. Remember that this advice is based only on the facts you have reported and our appreciation of them. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or developed.

Editor’s Note: Dear PAO is a daily column for the DA’s office. Questions for Chef Acosta can be sent to [email protected]


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