Make K9 detection and swabbing of drug samples admissible evidence – PDEA

PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino

THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency has recently expressed support to a proposed Senate resolution urging the Supreme Court to allow the findings of K9s and the swabbing of drug samples to be admissible evidence in court.

PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said Senate Resolution No. 888, which was introduced by Senator Emmanuel D. Pacquiao, is a welcome development, particularly in the filing of airtight cases in court for violation of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

PDEA Narcotic Detection Dogs (NDDs), or K9s, use its keen sense of smell to positively locate hidden illegal drugs, while the swabbing method is used to detect drug residues and traces evidence. Cotton tips are used to swab the surface and tested with suitable solvents for screening. However, these types of evidence gathering are not yet acceptable or admitted in courts.

“The proposed resolution, if considered, would allow additional tangible evidence as part of the preparation and filing of air-tight cases against arrested drug personalities to guarantee their conviction,” Aquino said.

The resolution states that it recognizes the proliferation of illegal drugs and drug-related cases in the country’s trial courts. These cases continue to drag and remain pending, adding more burden to the already clogged court dockets. A significant number of these cases fail in prosecution not only because of mishandled evidence, but also because of insufficiency of evidence.

According to Aquino, aside from the substantial gaps in the chain of custody rule of seized illegal drugs, inconsistencies in testimony, and non-attendance of prosecution witnesses, lack of convincing evidence is one of the frequent reasons that lead to the dismissal of drug cases.

We would like to thank Senator Pacquiao for introducing the resolution. K9 findings and swabbing of drug samples if admitted as evidence in court can strengthen the prosecution of drug-related cases in favor of the government,” the PDEA chief said.

A shipment containing PhP2.4 billion worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as shabu, concealed inside two magnetic lifters was intercepted in Manila International Container Port (MICP), North Harbor, Manila on August 7, 2018.

The metal containers were subjected to K9 sweeping which the PDEA NDDs gave positive indication for the presence of dangerous drugs.

Another four magnetic lifters suspected to contain voluminous amounts of shabu were discovered in a warehouse in General Mariano Alvarez (GMA), Cavite two days after, but upon inspection were found empty.

Despite yielding negative results from swab testing, PDEA’s drug-sniffing dogs have responded positively in detecting traces of the illegal drug inside the lifters. PDEA maintained that the four magnetic lifters found in a warehouse in Cavite contained shabu and stood by its K9 capability.

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