SC Approves Rule on Destruction and Disposal of Seized Dangerous Drugs

The Supreme Court has approved the Rule on the Destruction and Disposal of Seized Dangerous Drugs, Other Substances, and Instruments Prior to the Filing of an Information. It shall take effect on March 16 after its required publication.

Under A.M. No. 21-02-01-SC, the Court provides 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 for their destruction and disposal shall be filed before the court which has territorial jurisdiction over the case and the place where the dangerous drugs, other substances, and instruments were found and seized.

In both instances, the compliance with Sec. 21(1), Article II of R.A. 9165, as amended by R.A. 10640 is required. Section 21 provides for proper documentation which includes, among others, the conduct of physical inventory and photograph of the seized items.

The Rule further provides that a judge shall conduct an ocular inspection of the seized articles within 72 hours from the time the application is filed if the seized drugs amount to 1 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 of the seized drugs which shall be kept in the forensic laboratory of the operating unit which seized the drugs. In cases where the seized drugs are physically brought to the court, the court shall order the retention of the representative sample of the seized drugs also within 24 hours.

The taking of the representative sample shall be witnessed by: 1) the person from whom the items were seized or his or her representative

or counsel; 2) the elected public official who witnessed the physical inventory and photographing of the seized drugs; 3) an official from the National Prosecution Service or a representative from the media; 4) law enforcement agent/s who seized the drugs; and 5) the forensic laboratory personnel.

Also within 24 hours from the conduct of the ocular inspection,  the court shall order the immediate destruction and disposal of the remaining seized drugs or instruments and equipment. Prior to the actual destruction and disposal, however, the seized drugs shall be immediately sent and delivered to the Drug Forensic Center of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). The above cited witnesses to the taking of the representative sample shall also witness the actual destruction of the seized drugs and instruments.

The applicant shall file a report to the court, with attached photographs and video recordings of the destruction and disposal process, within 24 hours from the actual destruction and disposal of the seized drugs and items.

Upon proper motion, the court, using its sound discretion, 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 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, including attachment, 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.

Section 5(5), Article VIII of the Constitution vests in the Supreme Court, among others, the power to promulgate rules concerning practice and procedure in all courts. ###