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PDEA sets out guidelines handling surrendering drug personalities

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has outlined the guidelines in dealing with self-confessed surrenderers who voluntarily submitted themselves to authorities and admitted their involvement in the illegal drug trade. PDEA Director General Isidro S. Lapeña cited Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Regulation Number 3, Series of 2016, which was approved and adopted on 03 August 2016 and took effect on 03 September 2016, has established clear guidelines to re-integrate into society individuals who have fallen victims to the drug menace. “There is no provision in Republic Act 9165, or The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 that provides guidelines on handling voluntary surrender of drug personalities. That is why there is an urgent need to make one at the onset of the overwhelming surge of drug surrenderers nationwide,” Lapena said. Among the general guidelines provided are:
a. The voluntary surrender by drug personalities shall not be an assurance that they will not be subjected to drug law enforcement operation;
b. The whole submission process shall be covered by video recording and the personal circumstances of the surrenderers shall be recorded in the blotter registry book;
c. The surrenderers shall immediately be subjected to body search; and shall be required to sign an Affidavit of Undertaking and Waiver allowing the conduct of physical/medical examination and drug test, among others;
d. The surrenderers shall be interviewed on their alleged involvement and elicit all vital information regarding his illegal drug activity which will be used as reference for validation and cross-validation with the existing list of targeted drug personalities;and
e. No clearance or certificate shall be issued to the surrenderers.
“If the surrenderer has a pending warrant of arrest or criminal case, and has not posted bail, the concerned Office shall have temporary custody pending verification. Otherwise, if the drug personality is a high-value target and has no pending warrant of arrest, the general guidelines mentioned shall be observed,” Lapeña noted.
Lapeña added that if the surrenderer is a user, it shall be determined if rehabilitation is applicable in his/her case and follow the existing DDB regulation on procedures on treatment and rehabilitation for that purpose. The surrenderer shall state in his/her sworn affidavit that he/she shall undergo voluntary treatment. Any monetary consideration shall be borne by the surrenderer. If he/she cannot afford the treatment, he/she shall submit himself/herself to community-based rehabilitation program. After the submission process has ended, the surrenderer shall be under the supervision of the local government units (LGUs) through the City or Municipal Anti-Drug Abuse Council (CADAC/MADAC), and shall report to the Chief of Police at least once a week for a period of six months and may be subjected to random drug testing.
The LGUs in the area shall coordinate with the government and non-government organizations for the provision of livelihood and training programs to the drug personalities who surrendered voluntarily. “The intensified anti-drug efforts of the government have made a big impact on drug dependents and pushers nationwide that led to their voluntary submission to authorities. The opportunity presented itself. We did not expect this. Now it is time to provide them effective mechanisms to ensure their re-integration to society, to recover and become productive citizens again,” the PDEA chief said.
Based on the latest Philippine National Police (PNP) data, as of 07 September 2016, a total of 689,833 drug personalities (641,052 users and 48,781 pushers) have voluntarily surrendered throughout the country.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.