PDEA chief: Recycling of seized drugs still rampant

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FILE PHOTO. Recycling of illegal drugs seized during buy-bust operations is still rampant among some corrupt cops, the head of the agency at the forefront of the administration's drug war said Monday.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 16) — Recycling of illegal drugs seized during buy-bust operations is still rampant among some corrupt cops, the head of the agency at the forefront of the administration's drug war said Monday.

"When they seize drugs, maybe half of [those] will be surrendered or 'yun lang ang ipapalabas na 'yun lang na na-seize nila (they will say that's all that they have recovered). The other ones are being kept either for future operations or the worst of it they sell the drugs," Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director-General Aaron Aquino told senators during a hearing on the agency's proposed 2020 budget.

Aquino said ₱22 billion worth of illegal drugs remain in the government's inventory.

He blamed the slow issuance of court orders prevents PDEA from destroying the drugs on time. Under the law, seized drugs should be destroyed within 72 hours of confiscation as permitted by a court.

"Probably we can straighten the problem on this kasi every year na lang laging ganito eh tapos kami ang nasisisi lagi (because this happens every year and we always take the blame)," he said.

Senator Bato dela Rosa, who previously headed the Philippine National Police and led President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, asked Aquino to provide evidence and name officers involved in the scrupulous act.

The PDEA chief, however, failed to respond, saying “the information comes from the ground, but we don’t have specific names.”

With this, Senator Panfilo Lacson said he wants another hearing where court administrators will be invited.

"The problem is kung hindi nagre-react 'yung judges (if the judges don't react) and no corresponding administrative sanctions are imposed, then the law itself has become inutil (useless), hindi (not) implemented," Lacson said.

Government data shows that at least 6,600 people have been killed in anti-illegal drug operations since Duterte took office in July 2016. The country's independent Commission on Human Rights and international human rights groups have pegged the death figure at more than 27,000 which the police had filed as "homicides under investigation."

CNN Philippines' Correspondent AC Nicholls contributed to this report.