drugs

State prosecutor: Anti-narc agents need training

BY ROGER M. BALANZA

DAVAO CITY – Drug lords and pushers facing charges in court often get off the hook because drug law enforcers lack training on custody of evidence.

ARELLANO

PDEA XI chief ROSALES in an anti-drug forum

Davao Region state prosecutor Antonio Arellano said many of the drug cases are dropped due to a break in the chain of custody of confiscated drugs, a rule often violated by untrained drug law enforcers.

Violation of this provision is enough ground to dismiss cases against  those facing charges  under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 or the Anti-Drugs Act.

Arellano’s comment comes as a Muntinlupa Trial Court judge

 acquitted Richard Brodett and Jorge Joseph, two of the controversial “Alabang Boys.”

In dismissing the charges, Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 said the prosecution failed to establish the links in the chain of custody of drugs taken from Brodett and Joseph during their arrest nearly 3 years ago. The judge also pointed out inconsistencies in the testimony of the prosecution witness.

Brodett and Joseph, both members of prominent families, were arrested by elements of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Special Enforcement Service in Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa on September 20, 2008.

PDEA agents with evidence and a suspected shabu dealer

Arellano said the broken chain of custody casts doubts on the credibility of law enforcers.

He blamed lack of training on custody of evidence, and urged more training on the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act for law enforcers to upgrade their skills.

Section 21 of the Anti-Drugs Act provides that “the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs; plant sources of dangerous drugs; control precursors and essential chemicals, as well as instruments, paraphernalia, or laboratory equipment confiscated, seized or surrendered for proper disposition.”

“If gathering of evidences and enforcement of the law would properly be observed there would be a large number of convictions,” Arellano said.

Arellano’s call for more training for Davao region law enforcers has drawn a .reaction from the head of the PDEA.

PDEA-Davao Region director Emerson Rosales said his agents are well-trained and subjected to at the least one training or case conference per month.

My agents know RA 9165 by heart, he said.

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