At the bureau of Customs: Protocol on drug ops bared
MANILA --- To avoid stepping twice in hot water, the former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief, now Bureau of Customs (BOC) chief, Commissioner Isidro Lapena has issued a protocol on the proper handling of apprehended drugs. Lapena’s directive, contained in Memorandum 2017-11-004, aims to establish proper protocols for the handling of dangerous drugs (DD) and controlled precursors and essential chemicals (CPECs) within the jurisdiction of the bureau. The said memorandum ordered all suspected DD and/or CPECs discovered by way of regular course of work at the BOC be immediately reported to the Customs Anti-Illegal Drugs Task Force (CAIDTF) for proper coordination with PDEA. “All shipments found to contain DD and/or CPECs within the jurisdiction of the BOC and intended for controlled delivery, the PDEA shall be the lead agency,” the memo said. Commissioner Lapena further emphasized the role of PDEA being the lead anti-drug law enforcement agency in drug apprehensions. PDEA is responsible for the efficient and effective law enforcement of any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical. It can be recalled the former Customs Chief Nicanor Faeldon and other BOC employees faced simultaneous Congress and Senate investigations on the alleged mishandling of the 605-kilo methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) from China. “To avoid glitch in drug operations, make way and let PDEA stand in front because when it comes to drugs, they know better,” the customs chief said. The apprehending officer must follow the law stated in RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, Lapena added. PDEA is the responsible agency in filing criminal and civil cases related to drugs for violation of RA 9165 while BOC in filing criminal and civil cases arising from violation of RA 10863 or Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. “Ignorance of the law excuses no one. Let us follow the law and the proper protocol. However, let me also urge our BOC operatives to be always on tight guard so that we can suppress all drug importations right at the port of entry.” Lapena told the bureau employees.