The Supreme Court has adopted the rules governing the destruction and disposal of dangerous drugs that were seized in law enforcement operations.
Under the rules approved by the Court En Banc, the SC ordered that the application for the destruction and disposal of the seized dangerous drugs and related paraphernalia shall be filed by the law enforcement agent or the prosecutor before the court which issued the search warrant immediately after the seizure.
If the seizure or confiscation was done without a warrant, the application shall be filed before the court that has territorial jurisdiction over the case and the place where the dangerous drugs, other substances, and instruments were found and seized.
The Rule on the Destruction and Disposal of Seized Dangerous Drugs, Other Substances, and Instruments Prior to the Filing of Information takes effect on March 16 after its required publication.
It also required that proper documentation must be observed which includes, among others, the conduct of physical inventory and photograph of the seized items.
The SC said a judge shall conduct an ocular inspection of the seized items within 72 hours from the time the application is filed if the seized drugs amount to one kilogram or more, 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 which shall be kept in the forensic laboratory of the operating unit which confiscated the illegal drugs,” the SC said, in a statement released by the Public Information Office.
In cases where the seized illegal drugs are physically brought to the court, the judge shall order the retention of the representative sample also within 24 hours.
The taking of the representative sample shall be done in the presence of the following: 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.
Within 24 hours from the conduct of the inspection, the court shall order the immediate destruction and disposal of the remaining seized drugs or instruments and equipment.
Those allowed to view the collection of the representative sample shall also witness the actual destruction of the seized drugs and instruments.
Photos and video recordings of the destruction and disposal process must be submitted to the court within 24 hours.
According to the SC, the court may allow the proper and lawful use of seized drugs and controlled chemicals, when no longer needed as evidence, for the training of K9 detector dogs for narcotics subject to compliance of established guidelines by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
If the criminal information is filed already before the court other than the court that issued the search warrant or order the destruction and disposal, the records of the search warrant and order for destruction and disposal shall be consolidated with the court where the criminal information is filed.
In cases where no search warrants were issued, the criminal information shall be filed before the court that issued the order for destruction and disposal.
Last October, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered that all the confiscated shabu be destroyed in one week to avoid the recycling of the contraband.