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No room for estimates

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When law enforcement units led by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) raided a party place and seized Ecstasy pills, they inventoried the drugs and counted them to the very last pill.

And rightly so because that’s the protocol, especially when seizing drugs for the purpose of ensuring their legal acceptability as evidence in a court of law.

A proper inventory is also mandatory to guard against the drugs being pilfered while in the custody of law enforcement units and then recycled back for sale on the streets.

“It really boggles the mind how PDEA handled the seizure of shabu hidden inside two magnetic lifters.

For this very real danger of seized drugs being sold by rogue lawmen to enrich themselves, President Rodrigo Duterte has said he will gladly pay P5 million for every “ninja cop” brought to him dead.

“Ninja cops” are known to replace seized shabu with tawas (potassium aluminum sulfate) kilo by kilo to make it appear none had been taken, painstakingly mimicking their original packing when seized.

With the above discussion, it really boggles the mind how PDEA handled the seizure of shabu hidden inside two magnetic lifters found at the Manila International Container Port last 28 June.

Over a month later on 7 August, PDEA came out with a press release boasting about the shabu haul, estimating the same to be nearly 500 kilos, worth P4.6 billion.

The problem now is when the Bureau of Customs filed charges in court against the consignee of the drugs, it said PDEA found the actual weight of the shabu to be just 355 kilos.

There’s a difference of 145 kilos between the 500-kilo estimate and the 355 kilos as weighed. That difference is nearly three sacks of rice! Has PDEA become so inept as to come 145 kilos short in its estimate.

Mind you, 145 kilos of pure shabu, based on past government figures, have a street value of about P2 billion. So, we are talking here of big money.

Actually, ineptness as to making estimates is not the issue here, but the failure of PDEA to follow protocol. PDEA has no business coming up with estimates.

The moment PDEA takes custody of seized drugs, it must weigh or count them as in the case of the Ecstasy pills.

Had PDEA come up with actual weighed figures in its press releases, then there’d be no problem. But now, with the custody of the shabu remaining with them from start to the present, it has a lot of explaining to do.

With its changing figures, PDEA itself has planted the seeds of doubt as to its strict or lax compliance with evidentiary protocol or, worse, its fidelity in ensuring that seized drugs are not pilfered.
Concept News Central

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