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EDITORIAL: Defanged Antidrug Drive

Judging from the accounts of mainstream broadcast and print media, (still the more reliable news and information purveyor) incidents of senseless killings attributable to the anti drug war, have been on the downtrend over the past months.

This means that even prior to the designation of Vice President Leni Robredo as co chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), or a so called antidrug czar, more humane schemes had already been crafted. A move which may be interpreted as one preparatory to the fast approaching moment of reckoning relative to violations of the rule of law or open commission of crimes against humanity which are yet to prescribe.

But giving Robredo a role in the anti drug campaign may only be of significance for future use. Insofar as criminal acts committed earlier, the vice president’s role may just be interpreted as a shield. A cover up.

In fact, formation of the ICAD is a very crude attempt of diverting a controversy or responsibility. Creation of or referral to a committee is one of the tools to nip in the bud a more open treatment of an issue. Direct accountability of parties concerned is delegated to the committee, albeit momentarily.

In any case, certain matters concerning the enforcement of the antidrug campaign need to addressed. Necessarily, the role of the judiciary cannot be overlooked, once the cases involving drug suspects are in their jurisdiction.

The trial courts are empowered or even mandated to conduct plea bargaining proceedings. It is at this stage that the nature of the offense or the gravity of the penalty becomes negotiable. Selling or possession of drugs is usually downgraded to drug use. As a consequence the accused is given the opportunity of either posting a bail bond for provisional liberty or seeking rehabilitation.

Resolving cases in full blown proceedings is no longer the usual practice. Cases are treated the lazy man’s way.

Trial judges however cannot be totally faulted, given that their performance is being rated by the Supreme Court, using statistics for disposal of cases purposes as basis. In effect the performance of a judge is focused on statistical data that is why the quality of justice is jeopardize. Litigants are treated nothing else but statistical figures. As if they do not have flesh, heart and soul.

On the other hand law enforcers who have invested efforts and resources particularly during the intelligence gathering, would feel disheartened. Their entire efforts are being turned to naught.

No wonder that some of them resort to procedural shortcuts, and in the end prefer to become law enforcers, prosecutors, judges and executioners. This is not to say that rehabilitation of drug addicts should be abandoned. They are absolutely needed.

Government offices should function coherently. Otherwise the entire anti drug efforts are turned into disarray especially when some PDEA and police operatives engage in turf jealousy.

In plain, all the branches of the government need to put their acts together so that the entire campaign does not in the process get defanged. The legislative arm needs to revisit the provisions of Republic Act. 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs ACT), which may no longer be responsive in the light of contemporary events. The executive and judiciary must consult each other, without necessarily placing rule of law in peril.

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