PDEA says use of 'recycled drugs' vs suspects still 'rampant'

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) admitted that the practice of keeping portions of seized drugs to plant evidence against suspects is still "rampant" among law enforcement agencies.

At the Senate hearing on PDEA"s proposed P2.497-billion budget on Monday, September 16, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked whether recycling drugs is still an issue today. PDEA chief Aaron Aquino said yes.

"I received some information from assets, from other law enforcement agencies themselves…Hearing these reports, it will just show that there's still recycling of drugs. I guess it's still rampant," Aquino said.

"When they seize drugs, maybe half of that wll be surrendered. Or 'yun yung papalabas nila na 'yun lang ang na-seize nila. (Or they will make it appear that the amount of seized drugs is less.) While all the other ones are being kept for other future operations, or worse, [are sold]," Aquino added.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairperson of the sub-committee hearing PDEA's proposed budget, asked: "Medyo interesting (It's somehow interesting), [when you said] future operations. Meaning ipa-plant (it will be used as planted evidence)?

Aquino responded: "Pwedeng pam-plant, sir. Pwedeng all kinds of operations." (It could be used to be planted as evidence. It could be for all kinds of operations reations.)

Lacson, a former chief of the Philippine National Police, replied, "Either way, it's bad."

Aquino said that a Manila-based "drug queen" is being hunted for buying confiscated drugs from operatives. He said that they want to "neutralize" her first before divulging more information about her.

To counter such practices, PDEA said they conduct joint operations with other agencies.

The Duterte administration's campaign against illegal drugs has claimed thousands of lives. The government said that at least 5,500 people had been killed in legitimate police operations, as of June 30 this year. 

But the Commission on Human Rights said more than 27,000 people have died in the drug war.

The main argument used by law enforcement agencies to justify the killings is that targetted persons fought back. (WATCH: War on drugs: 'Nanlaban'– Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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