MANILA—The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) reported on Friday an 89 percent increase in the number of cases filed against drug personalities in 2016 compared to 2015.
PDEA Director General Isidro Lapeña said there were 47,331 cases filed in 2016 compared to 25,009 cases in 2015.
Lapeña said the spike in the number of cases filed against drug perpetrators was recorded at the start of the Duterte administration with 28,734 cases filed between July-December 2016 compared to 18,597 cases in the first semester of the same year.
“Under the leadership of President Duterte, with the anti-drug program as his number one priority, the overall anti-drug efforts from July 1, 2016 (has) significantly increased, even surpassing the combined efforts in the last three years of the previous administration,” Lapeña said during the May 2 #RealNumbers Forum.
Under the Duterte administration, he said that a total of 35,274 drug cases were filed in court from July 1, 2016 to May 17, 2017. From January to May 17, 2017, there were 6,540 cases filed in court.
The number of drug-related cases filed was steady in 2011 and 2012, with 12,627 and 12,534, respectively. The number 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.
Lawyers from PDEA recently met with legal practitioners from across the nation to discuss ways to speed up the conviction of arrested drug offenders, Lapena said.
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 the local court.
Meanwhile, the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) announced the implementation of integrated efforts and strategies to holistically address the drug problem in the country.
It will address the present gaps and issues encountered by various agencies mandated to implement anti-drug laws and policies as well as promote an environment that is conducive to synergy among all agencies.
The ICAD was created under Executive Order Number 15 by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to suppress the drug problem in the country.
The EO states that it is the priority of the government to suppress the drug problem in the country by putting the manufacturers, traffickers and peddlers of illegal drugs behind bars. Government will also help transform drug users into productive members of society as part of balanced and integrated approaches of supply and demand reduction strategies under the Barangay Drug Clearing Program.
The ICAD is headed by PDEA and has 20 members.
“The creation of the ICAD will expedite all anti-drug efforts with the goal of attaining the President’s priority objective to effectively suppress the long-standing illegal drug problem, which is a clear threat to national security, thereby affecting the moral fiber of our society, undermining the rule of law and threatening the development of the country. We will strive to achieve this before the end of this administration’s term,” Lapeña said.