Judge pushes for police re-training on drug cases PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 02 December 2012 14:48

A trial judge in a town in North Cotabato has strongly recommended that police personnel, especially those involved in the campaign against drug trafficking, must undergo re-training.

Judge Laureano Alzate of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 22 in Kabacan town said this would ensure that persons charged of selling or using illegal drugs, like shabu, would be convicted.

Alzate said all of the drug-related cases filed with his sala are dismissed due to the violation of the ‘chain of custody rule.’

The rule, he explained, is on the handling of pieces of evidence by the police that conducted buy-bust raids or search operations against suspected drug couriers or users.

Most of the times, he said, the pieces of evidence presented by the prosecution were either ‘mutilated’ or ‘mocked’.

“Do not mutilate the physical evidences. I suggest the policemen undergo retraining in handling drug arrests so as to help them preserve the integrity of the evidences they would soon present in court,” said Alzate.

The judge admitted that since he assumed the RTC post in Kabacan town he had not convicted a person accused of drug trafficking.

In fact, more than 30 inmates at the Cotabato district jail in Kidapawan City accused of violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act were released from detention because of technicalities.

This, he said, is despite the many arrests or buy-bust raids the police had conducted in the past.

The town of Kabacan, the police said, is considered a transshipment point of illegal drugs in Central Mindanao.

In fact, in May this year, the Kabacan Police organized an anti-drug task force to intensify its campaign against drug trafficking in some villages where reports of illegal drugs trading had been very rampant.

The police even suspect that children ages 10 years old and above are also involved in selling prohibited drugs.

A former police officer in Kabacan town, Supt. Raul Supiter, was once quoted as saying that the town of Kabacan has become the transshipment point of illegal drugs coming from Cotabato City and Cagayan de Oro City via Bukidnon province.

Unfortunately, many of the arrests made by the police failed to make a conviction, according to Alzate.

But Alzate told police: ‘Do not blame me.’

“When the drug suspect is arrested, the apprehending officer who confiscated the drugs must do some markings. But to whom did the policeman turn over that piece of evidence? Where did he turn over the shabu afterwards? And so on and so forth… If you break the chain of custody, then, there’s a problem. That’s what the defense lawyers are doing. They tried to break the chain,” said Alzate.

Alzate has dispelled the ‘wrong’ notion that once the person is charged in court, he is already guilty.

“Accusation is not synonymous with guilt. Many of the cases I tried are dismissed because of lack of evidences. If you convict a person, it should be beyond reasonable doubt,” stressed the judge.

Alzate is one of the six trial judges from North Cotabato that participated in the enhanced Justice on Wheels of the Supreme Court held last Monday in Kidapawan City.