MANILA—Data released by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Friday showed a spike in the number of cases filed against drug perpetrators since President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against hard drug trafficking began in July last year.
PDEA Director Isidro Lapeña showed the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that cases filed against drug offenders soared 55 percent to 28,734 cases in July-December 2016 from 18,597 cases in January-June in the same year.
Lapeña also noted an 89 percent year-on-year surge in drug cases filed from 25,009 in 2015 to 47,331 in 2016.
Since the Duterte administration began, a total of 33,510 drug cases were filed in court from July 1, 2016 to April 20, 2017, he said.
“Under the leadership of President Duterte, with the anti-drug program as his No. 1 priority, the overall anti-drug efforts from July 1, 2016 to April 2017 significantly increased, even surpassing the combined efforts in the last three years of the previous administration,” Lapeña said during the recent #RealNumbers Forum.
The number of drug-related cases filed was steady in 2011 and 2012, with 12,627 and 12,534, respectively, but dropped to 10,923 in 2013 before rising to 17,619 in 2014, 25,009 in 2015, and 47,331 in 2016.
According to the PDEA Legal and Prosecution Service, of the 8,444 drug cases resolved nationwide from 2014 to October 2016, a total of 1,697 (20.1 percent) resulted in conviction; 2,059 (24.4 percent) in dismissal; and 4,688 (55.5 percent) in acquittal.
“These figures show the low conviction rate of the drug cases filed in the last three years. Internal support mechanisms have been institutionalized in PDEA, including the strengthened relationship among the different pillars of the criminal justice system. These should ensure the filing of airtight drug cases, paving the way for the conviction of arrested drug personalities,” the PDEA chief said.
Lapeña further said that PDEA lawyers recently met with lawyers from all over the country to discuss ways to speed up the conviction of arrested drug offenders.
Meanwhile, Prosecutor General Victor Sepulveda said the process of filing drug cases begins with an inquest, during which evidence is validated. Once evidence is found to be sufficient, a case is filed before the local court.
”An inquest ideally takes 72 office hours,” Sepulveda told PNA.
He however noted that the validation period gets extended when a respondent submits a counter affidavit.
The length of time to resolve a case, he said, also depends on how long a local court tries the case.