Press Release
August 6, 2012

Privilege Speech vs DOJ Circular

Esteemed colleagues:

One of the pillars in the fight against illegal drugs is law enforcement. Under our legal system, in order to put behind bars the criminals in the illegal drugs trade, we must see to it that the arrest, preliminary investigation and trial of the suspects must be vigilantly pursued.

There is, however, a weak spot in the legal fight against this malady. We often blame our enforcement agencies, such as the police and the PDEA when those accused in the illegal-drugs trade escape liability.

Let me explain what I mean.

In a previous DOJ circular dated January 5, 2009, it was categorically mandated that drug-related respondents under detention shall remain in police/PDEA custody until their cases are resolved by the Secretary of Justice. It was strenghtened by Administrative Order No. 253 issued by Former President Gloria Arroyo which provided that all decisions of the Secretary of Justice involving dismissal of cases under R.A. 9165 shall be subject to automatic review by the Office of the President. Pending review by the OP, execution of the decision or resolution shall be stayed. This is the reason why the accused in the so-called "Alabang Boys" drugs case were not released even when the case was ordered dismissed by the state prosecutor. The prevailing rule was that the suspects shall remain in police/PDEA custody.

However, in a new department circular issued by Secretary of Justice Leila De Lima, the policy of keeping arrested persons in drug related cases to remain in the police custody was revised so that these suspects may now be released pending review by the Secretary of Justice.

This change in policy is a blow to our campaign against drug traffickers and violators of R.A. 9165. Such circular, I believe, will make our anti-illegal drugs campaign harder as no drug pusher/trafficker would allow themselves to be re-arrested given their huge resources. Where will we find these suspects when their probable guilt is affirmed by the Secretary of Justice?

I therefore call the attention of this chamber to this legal setback to our campaign to eradicate the illegal-drugs trade in our midst. The Secretary of Justice should help us in this regard, not help the accused in illegal-drugs cases.

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