DOJ to prioritize drug-related cases after Duterte order for prompt drug destruction

Robie de Guzman   •   October 7, 2020   •   527

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday said it will issue a memorandum circular directing prosecutors handling drug-related cases to prioritize its resolution.

The move is meant to support the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to promptly destroy seized illegal drugs within a week.

“In accordance with the president’s directive, the DOJ will issue a memo circular to all prosecutors investigating drug cases to give top priority to the resolution of the same, to file the information ASAP, and to move for a court order to conduct ocular inspection of and destroy the seized drugs, precursors, etc. within the time specified in RA 9165,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a message to reporters.

Duterte on Monday ordered authorities to destroy by next week all confiscated illegal drugs and to only retain specimens. He said the eradication of seized dangerous drugs would prevent these from being “stolen, used, or recycled,” and would “better protect” Filipinos.

Guevarra said that under the Section 21(4) of the Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, trial courts are required to conduct an ocular inspection of the illegal drugs, precursors, paraphernalia, and other items within 72 hours from the filing of the criminal information.

“The President’s directive to immediately destroy illegal drugs seized or confiscated by law enforcement agents should be taken in the context of Sec. 21(4) of the comprehensive dangerous drugs law which requires the trial courts, within 72 hours from the filing of the criminal information, to conduct an ocular inspection of the illegal drugs, precursors, paraphernalia, etc, and thereafter proceed to burn or destroy the same, thru the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency), within 24 hours after the inspection,” he said.

“A representative sample of the seized drugs will be retained for use during the trial of the case,” he added.

With these provisions, Guevarra stressed that “law enforcement agents must file the criminal complaints immediately so that the destruction of the seized drugs could proceed as early as possible.”

Prior to Duterte’s order, the Supreme Court in July directed trial court judges handling illegal drug cases to immediately conduct inspections and order for its destruction in compliance with the law.

If full compliance is not possible, priority should be given to illegal drugs weighing at least five kilograms, Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez said in OCA Circular 118-2020.

The circular was issued after then Philippine National Police chief General Francisco Gamboa informed the high court that seized drugs from various operations remain in the custody of law enforcement agents due to the delayed issuance of court orders for its destruction as required by the law. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

DOJ completes guidelines on the arrest of health protocol violators

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has completed the guidelines in arresting violators of health and safety protocols.

In a statement, DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the department is ready to present the guidelines to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). He added that they will be coordinating with the DILG in a few days.

“The guidelines will not add anything to the substantive aspect. Only as to the procedure on arrest and detention until the filing of charges, if warranted,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has previously ordered the DOJ to draft guidelines to avoid any complications concerning the arrest.

This will also prevent overcrowding in detention centers.  Health and safety protocols will still be followed to avert the spread of the virus in detention centers.

“Fully aware of the complications that may arise from effecting arrests of persons not wearing face masks were required (such as the problem of congested jails or detention centers),” he added. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

DOJ, DILG crafting guidelines for Duterte order to detain people improperly wearing face masks

Robie de Guzman   •   May 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) are crafting guidelines for the latest order of President Rodrigo Duterte to detain those who are improperly wearing face masks in public, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Thursday.

In a message to reporters, Guevarra said the guidelines will include details on the booking and detention processes, as well as the investigation and the filing of charges against those who will be apprehended.

The DOJ chief, however, stressed that Duterte’s order takes effect immediately even if the guidelines are still being formulated.

“The President’s directive takes effect immediately even without the guidelines. Existing laws and ordinances define the prohibited acts and impose the corresponding penalties therefore, and the relevant rules of court govern the procedure,” Guevarra said.

He also advised the public to wear face masks properly and to follow the law to avoid being detained.

“The best way to avoid being arrested while the guidelines are being formulated is to wear a face mask and obey the law,” he said.

On Wednesday, Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police to impose a stricter mask mandate to stem the spread of COVID-19 that mostly affected urban centers.

De Lima now in stable condition, discharged from hospital

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila M. de Lima is now in stable condition and has been discharged from the hospital, according to her personal physicians.

In a statement, Dr. Dante Morales and Dr. Errol Rhett Santelices said the result of De Lima’s tests showed no evidence of stroke.

“The medical team who attended her case said De Lima experienced episodes of migraine headaches triggered by the hot environment, poor ventilation, and noise. This was associated with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and reactive hypertension,” the statement reads.

Her personal physicians have recommended increasing ventilation in her detention quarters which is poorly ventilated and absorbs the summer heat.

It was also recommended that the senator undergo more tests should the symptoms recur.

The medical team also stressed that De Lima’s blood pressure and sugar level be regularly monitored. She was also advised to avoid stress.

De Lima was confined at the Manila Doctors Hospital for three days, from April 24-27, to undergo a medical examination.

De Lima thanked everyone who showed support, sent messages, and offered prayers for her recovery. AAC

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