PDEA Region 1 laments low rate of conviction

ONLY 30% CONVICTED

LINGAYEN–Despite the numerous arrests of drug personalities in Region 1 since the war on drugs began July 1 last year, the head of the region’s Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the war on drug’s lead agency, expressed serious doubts if these could lead to a higher conviction rate in courts.

This was disclosed by PDEA Regional Director Jeoffrey Tacio in a talk to newsmen in Lingayen, admitting that his pessimism is based the agency’s and the police’s historical data and on case monitoring conducted by his office.

He said the conviction rate of arrested suspects for violation of Republic Act No. 9165 remains at a low 30 percent.

He attributed the low rate to failure of police operatives arresting suspects to strictly observe established legal procedures.

He said the lapses being committed often have led to the acquittal of the many suspects.

“It is low,” conceded Tacio, referring to the conviction rate of drug offenders but added “we  are working on it.”

He said the cases against drug offenders are being dismissed on technicalities.

“There ought to be more training for operatives and investigators to minimize the commission of lapses,” Tacio told newsmen.

He pointed out that what needs closer attention is the process of filing the case, particularly the need for the a legal officer to review the case file with the arresting operatives before it is filed with the court.

But he said it is not always possible because of the lack of legal officers in the police service.

P/Senior Supt. Ronald Oliver Lee, acting police provincial director, earlier admitted that the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office has only one legal officer.

Meanwhile, Tacio revealed that the ‘biggest fish’ so far arrested in the war on drugs  was the leader of the Sinco drug group in Ilocos Sur.

He said in Pangasinan, he identified some barangay chairmen who have become high value targets in the illegal drug trade.

He said there are indications that some of the barangay chairmen in the province killed by unidentified hitmen riding in tandem were involved in illegal drugs.

Tacio, however, merely smiled when asked if there are more barangay chairmen in the watch list of PDEA and the police but said whoever are engaged in the drug trade are closely being watched.

He added that while Pangasinan remains the province in the region that has the biggest problem with drugs because of its area and population, there is no drug laboratory in Pangasinan.

Meanwhile, Tacio said he is happy to see the PNP back in the war on drugs as he admitted that PDEA is really undermanned. (Leonardo Micua)

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