UNDER Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, the conduct of physical inventory and photography in all anti-drug operations, whether the seizure is warrantless (like a buy-bust operation or checkpoint) or by virtue of the implementation of a search warrant, is required.
The physical inventory should also be witnesses by any elected public officials, representative of the Department of Justice, and a representative from the media.
In most cases, elected public officials involve officials of the barangay where the seizure was conducted.
But sadly for members of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO City Drug Enforcement Unit, not a single elected official of Barangay Bakhaw, Mandurriao district came to witness the actual inventory during a buy-bust operation on June 21, 2018.
Bakhaw had been tagged as Iloilo City’s drug haven.
This incident led SPO1 Alfred Tilano, CDEU investigator, to write a letter to Atty. Ferdinand Panes, the city director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), informing the latter of what happened.
The letter dated July 2 stated, “that during the conduct of the actual inventory, officials of the barangays failed to perform their duty to act as witnesses during the actual inventory of the seized items.”
The barangays officials mentioned included the slain Barangay Captain Remia Prevendido Gregori, and Barangay Kagawads Norberto Prevendido, Yorelinda Palomo, Joel Alvarado, Rennie Tejam, Norberto Balasa, Ricardo Halaman, and Gemma Palmos.
Unidentified assailants killed Gregori, who was earlier tagged as a high-value target (HVT) level 3 drug personality, last June 24, 2018.
“The act of barangay officials of the said Barangay will hamper in the future the prosecution of the case against the suspects. As CDEU operatives, we respectfully appeal to inform you to remind once against barangay officials not only of Bakhaw to cooperate and to perform their duty and responsibilities during the conduct of drug operations in the respective areas,” Tilano said.
The letter was noted by Superintendent Rogen Morales, CDEU chief.
The operation mentioned in the letter resulted in the arrest of Mary Rose Broce alias “Mayang,” 39, a call center agent and resident of Barangay San Jose, San Miguel, Iloilo; Joseph Bañas, 30, of Barangay Bakhaw, Mandurriao; and Carla Broce, 43, another call center agent from Bakhaw.
Mary Rose was the subject of the operation while Bañas allegedly conspired with her.
Carla was arrested for obstruction of justice.
Senior Inspector Shella Mae Sangrines, ICPO spokesperson, said the officials offered varied reasons why they can’t make it to the inventory.
“Since the DILG has the administrative control over them, we deemed that we forward this concern on their level,” she added.
Sangrines said they would just wait for guidance from the DILG.
“We will adhere to whatever their guidance will be. It could also form part of our complaint,” she added.
In the past, Sangrines said there were barangay officials who were adamant in witnessing physical inventory during anti-illegal drug operations.
“But it’s the first time in Iloilo City that no barangay official signed the inventory,” she added.
The DILG-Iloilo City reportedly assured that they would make the matter a priority during the regular Iloilo City Anti-Drug Abuse Council (ICADAC) meeting.