By Zaldy De Layola

(Photo courtesy of Capiz Provincial Drugs Enforcement Unit)

MANILA – Illegal drugs seized in police operations should be immediately destroyed to deter drug pilferage and recycling of illegal substances in the market, according to a bill filed in Congress.

House Bill No. 9668, or the “Prompt Dangerous Drugs Destruction Act of 2023” authored by Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, would compel all law enforcement officers to promptly destroy all dangerous drugs seized, and mandate all incineration facilities, including crematoriums, to render free services to destroy illegal substance seized in operations.

The lack of dedicated incineration facilities for the immediate destruction of seized drugs had been a long-time concern since these substances are temptations for pilferage and recycling if held in custody for a long time by law enforcers, he said.

“Kung maisasa-batas natin ito, mapipigilan na natin ang pilferage at recycling ng illegal na droga at wala ng dahilan ang ating mga anti-drug agent na tumagal pa sa kanilang kustodya ang anumang ilegal na droga na kanilang nakumpiska (If this is enacted, we would be able to stop pilferage and recycling of illegal drugs and our law enforcers would have no more reason to keep these drugs under their custody),” he pointed out.

According to Barbers, the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) should come into play on the part of incineration facilities, including crematoriums — which are traditionally associated with the dignified handling of end-of-life rituals — by extending their commitment to societal well-being.

“Kung maipapagamit sa atin ng libre ang mga incineration at cremation facilities para sunugin agad-agad ang mga kumpiskadong droga, maiiwasan na ang drug pilferage at recycling na matagal nang kinakaharap ng ating lipunan (If they can allow for free the use of their incineration and cremation facilities to burn right away the seized drugs, the lingering drug pilferage [problem] of our society, would be avoided),” the legislator said.

In return, Barbers said any incineration or crematorium facility that would render services under the measure would be given tax incentives, entitling them to a tax credit of 10 percent but not exceeding PHP50,000 of the taxable gross income for two years.

“Failure or refusal to render free destruction of any seized illegal drugs by the concerned facilities would be a ground for the suspension, revocation, or non-renewal of license or permit to operate said business/es,” the lawmaker said.

The measure identifies the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as the agency to designate the cremation facility that would undertake the drug destruction process, giving preference to the facility nearest to the court having jurisdiction over the case or to the place where the dangerous drugs were seized.

“The destruction and disposal of seized or confiscated illegal drugs and other substances shall be done through a Court order and the same shall be conducted with the strict supervision of the PDEA,” Barbers said.

The process of destruction shall be witnessed by PDEA personnel, an elected official, a representative from the National Prosecution Service, the media and civil society groups.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will be tasked to issue pertinent guidelines on drug incineration and disposal. (PNA)