Oversight in Joavan drug arrest–NBI
Joavan Fernandez, controversial adopted son of Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez, has found yet another reason to smile.
This after an agent of the National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI-7) admitted last Friday that there were no representatives from the Department of Justice (DOJ) who witnessed the inventory on drug paraphernalia taken from Joavan’s possession in a 2008 operation.
NBI-7 Agent Arnel Pura made the admission during a trial before Regional Trial Court Judge Enriqueta Belarmino of Branch 57.
On cross-examination, Joavan’s lawyer George Bragat asked Pura whether the NBI-7 complied with section 21 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which requires the presence of DOJ and local government officials during an inventory of drugs in a raid or an operation.
“We find it unnecessary (to call on DOJ and local officials) because the search was made in front of media,” Pura said.
He also said a representative of the media failed to sign the inventory sheet.
Under section 21 , paragraph 1 of Republic Act 7610 or the Comprehensive Drugs Act of 2002, “the apprehending team shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the drugs in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized.”
It said the inventory should also be witnessed by the accused’s lawyer, a representative from the media and the DOH and any elected public official.
They would be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof.
Regional Trial Court (RTC) Executive Judge Meinrado Paredes earlier noted a 40 percent to 50 percent increase in the dismissal of drug cases and acquittal of drug suspects since the Supreme Court (SC) laid the rules on Section 21 of the Comprehensive Drugs Act of 2002.
Paredes, who is one of four judges assigned to a special court on drug cases in Cebu City, said defense lawyers started to invoke the provisions of section 21 after the SC ruling on the first part of 2009.
Joavan was arrested by agents of the NBI-7 inside a spa in Talisay City on Oct. 6, 2008.
NBI agents found in Joavan ’s pockets two bullets of a .45-caliber pistol, a rosary and drug paraphernalia—a tooter, tin foil, lighter and an empty plastic sachet.
Joavan posted bail on the offense for temporary liberty.
/REPORTER ADOR VINCENT S. MAYOL
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